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Education Faculties Respond Strongly to Ontario’s Teacher Shortage

Last February, the College called for an increase of 2,000 teacher education places in each of five years starting in 1999-2000, focused mainly in areas of impending shortages. Faculties of education have responded.

By Frank McIntyre

Ontario’s education faculties began to address the provincial teacher shortage with a sharp increase in their pre-service intake in 1999-2000. Teacher candidate numbers climbed from 5,984 in 1998-99 to 7,040 this year, a substantial gain of 17.6 per cent. The Ministry of Education partially supported this growth through new university operating funds for 500 pre-service places, about one-half of the growth achieved.

Although 1,026 of this year’s new teacher candidates are enrolled in concurrent programs and will not graduate for a few years, most of the increase is in the one-year consecutive programs. Boards of education throughout the province will benefit from spring 2000 graduates of a consecutive program class of 6,014 compared with 5,109 in 1999, a potential 905 more new Ontario-educated teachers than last year.

Every one of Ontario’s 10 faculties of education added significantly to their consecutive program enrolment. Intake increases varied from 56 to 137 beyond each university’s respective previous year level.

Increased capacity is targeted for the most part to areas of greatest need. Secondary schools gain the most with a 34 per cent increase in Intermediate-Senior division candidates and 23 per cent more in Junior-Intermediate programs. These increases account for fully 747 of the added consecutive program enrolment. The residual growth of 158 candidates is in Primary-Junior programs, a six per cent increase for these programs over the previous year.

The secondary teaching subjects of greatest growth are generally areas of major demand. Increased intake is most notable in the sciences – especially Biology, Chemistry and general science – as well as in English, History, Physical and Health Education, and Mathematics. Technological Studies enrolment also gained significant ground, with a boost from 66 candidates in 1999 to 104 this year.

French-language consecutive program enrolment growth (23.8 per cent) outdid English language programs (17.2 per cent). With growth about evenly split between Primary-Junior and Intermediate-Senior programs, the French language population grew from 408 in 1999 to 505 this year.