The Need for an Inclusive Quota System in Teachers’ Education and the Teaching Service in Manitoba and Across Canada  

by CAFE Research Volunteer Hyginus Ihemere

The province of Manitoba plans to implement the new quota system for teachers’ education in order to increase the diversity in the teaching service and to reflect the demographics in the province and in particular bring in more minority teachers into the classroom. This has been applauded by the different stakeholders in education with some others having an opposing view of the new quota system. In supporting the quota system especially for the aboriginal peoples, Niigaan Sinclair a professor at the University of Manitoba department of Native Studies notes that  “they bring diverse intellectual knowledge from not only their cultural perspectives but from their historical perspectives”.¹ The new quota system is designed to make room for every identifiable minority group which is a great idea, but it failed to actually address other important factors such as the decline in the number of male teachers in Manitoba and across Canada which is also vital in order to bring about real change and improvements in students’ performance and overall outcome of the students in the province and in the country as a whole.

There is ample evidence supporting the low representation of minority groups in the teaching service and similar evidence exists on the low number of male teachers across the country. In an article by Lisa Kidane, she notes that the Calgary Board of Education accounts for just 16% of teachers identified as males in their elementary schools². In 2010, Jon Bradley, a McGill University professor of education notes that “it is now possible for a child in Canada to go through elementary school and high school and never see a male at the front of the class”.³ This statement by Jon Bradley was his effort to highlight the obvious in his institution that had only five percent of males in their elementary teachers training program. In some other institutions in Canada, a similar trend has also been observed; in the year 2011, the Vancouver Sun reported that the education program at Simon Fraser University consisted of 80% females. Although there may have been changes in these statistics in these institutions as per the present day, it is obvious that no major shift has occurred. There is therefore the need to re-strategize towards attracting more male teachers into the classrooms and this may be through an inclusive quota system that has spaces for all groups including males since they are also underrepresented in the classrooms. The Vancouver Sun also reported that in 2011, British Columbia (B.C) had just 3 in every 10 teachers identified as male and they note that “the number of male teachers in K-12 schools has been declining for years with no change in sight, but those who have stuck with the profession are punching above their weight in leadership positions”.⁴

Advocating for policies or quota systems that ensure that more males are enrolled into education programs would be beneficial for the overall performance of students and in particular boys. Writing in the Journal of Pedagogy, Culture & Society, Elina Lahelma document that male teachers are needed as role models for boys and girls, and other than this, there are certain male characteristics that are needed in a school which may benefit all students and especially those with no male figures at home.⁵ In an article by Laura Clark in The Daily Mail, she notes that male teachers are better motivators for boys.⁶ This agrees with the findings by Majzub and Rais who note in their study that having male teachers help to instill discipline in boys.⁷ Some have argued that the decline in the number of male teachers contributes to academic underachievement in boys due to the absence of male role models in school.⁸ This agrees with the report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which notes that the absence of male teachers contributes to boys underachievement in schools.⁹ Also supporting the rationale for increasing the number of male teachers in our schools is Thomas Dee, a Stanford University Professor who had noted in his research that boys perform better with male teachers.¹º

Considering the available evidence in support of the need for increasing the quota of minority teachers to reflect existing demographics and also the rationale for increasing the number of male teachers in our schools, policies and practices which address only a part of this problem and leaving the other (males) are nothing but skewed and therefore require a review. The reason for the review is to ensure an inclusive policy that does not leave out male teachers which according to available researches improve students’ performance and also serve as an avenue to ensure that there are role models and mentors for students.

References:

  1. CBC News (2016) ‘Education experts spar over affirmative action at University of Manitoba’, Feb 16 (Online). Available from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/university-manitoba-affirmative-action-1.3450334 (Accessed: 4 July 2016)
  2. Kadane, L. (2015) ‘The importance of male teachers’, Today’s Parent (Online). Available from: http://www.todaysparent.com/kids/the-importance-of-male-teachers/ (Accessed: 4 July 2016)
  3. Abraham, C. (2010) ‘Failing Boys Part 2: The endangered male teacher’ The Globe and Mail- National (Online). Available from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/part-2-the-endangered-male-teacher/article4330079/ (Accessed: 4 July 2016)
  4. Vancouver Sun (2011) ‘Number of male teachers continues to decline’, (Online). Available from: http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=d7cc0334-8340-49e2-8ca5-2d924e7fa491 (Accessed: 4 July 2016)
  5. Elina Lahelma (2000) ‘Lack of male teachers: a problem for students or teachers?, Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 8:2, 173-186(Online). Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14681360000200093#aHR0cDovL3d3dy50YW5kZm9ubGluZS5jb20vZG9pL3BkZi8xMC4xMDgwLzE0NjgxMzYwMDAwMjAwMDkzQEBAMA== (Accessed: 11 July 2016)
  6. Clark, L. (2012) ‘Why lack of male teachers could be the reason boys fail in the classroom’, The Daily Mail 17 February (Online). Available from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2102759/Why-boys-failing-grade-classroom-Lack-male-teachers-reason-according-new-study.html (Accessed: 11 July 2016)
  7. Majzub, R. and Rais,M. (2010) ‘Boys’ Underachievement: Male versus Female Teachers’, Science Direct: Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 7(C) (2010) 685–690(Online). Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042810020975 (Accessed: 11 July 2016)
  8. Driessen, G. (2007) ‘The feminization of primary education: Effects of teachers’ sex on pupil achievement, attitudes and behavior’, Review of Education 53, no 2: 183-203(Online). Available from: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11159-007-9039-y (Accessed: 11 July 2016)
  9. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (no date) ‘Why are Boys Under-­ performing in Education?’ Gender Analysis of Four Asia- Pacific Countries’, United Nations Girls Education Initiative (Online). Available from: http://www.unicef.org/eapro/report_why_are_boys_underperforming_FINAL.pdf (Accessed: 11 July 2016)
  10. Dee, T. (2006) ‘ How a Teacher’s Gender Affects Boys and Girls’, Education Next (Online). Available from: https://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/ednext20064_68.pdf (Accessed: 11 July 2016)