Canadian teacher survey exposes damage to education during the pandemic

published 13 July 2020 updated 4 March 2022

Education International's member organisation, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF/FCE), conducted a survey in which nearly 18,000 teachers participated. It showed unease and concern about the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the well-being of students and teachers. It exposed damage to education stemming from the dependence on distance learning, including the disruption of social relations and the aggravation of inequities. Teachers surveyed were also pre-occupied with reopening, both from the point of view of occupational health and safety and learning.

One respondent wrote, “We have vulnerable students who have challenging home lives. For some of our students, school is their safe place and where their connections are to feel safe and secure.” The survey, which was conducted between 1 and June of this year, reveals a shared concern that the quality of education has declined during the lockdown and that vulnerable students are especially at risk. Major findings of the survey are as follows:

Notable findings

  • 74% are concerned with the mental health and well-being of their students.
  • 73% have concerns or questions about getting their students what they need to be successful with online instruction.
  • 44% state that they have concerns with their mental health and well-being.

Of the teachers who responded to open-ended questions:

  • 92% say that access to technology and learning materials was a barrier to equitable quality public education.
  • 89% report concerns about student emotional health. Educators note that students are isolated and missing social connections with their classmates and schools, and they are concerned with students returning to school after a period of detachment.

In response to this important work, EI General Secretary David Edwards, said, “The results of this member consultation show the inherent problems with remote, internet-based learning, even in a country with good access to information and communications technology. It will be difficult for even the most ardent supporters of distance learning to dismiss the importance of social connections and being part of a school community when 89 per cent of Canadian teachers share that concern.”

“The results of CTF/FCE research is consistent with what we are hearing from others. The scale of the survey and its clear results will be of value to all other member organisations. They are also an important contribution to our global efforts during the health crisis, but also to making our case for quality, in-person post-pandemic education.”