Does The Government Need To Raise Canada’s Early Childhood Education Salary?

Published January 23, 2014
School girl sitting in class. Photo credit here.

School girl sitting in class. Photo credit here.

Canada recently saw a steep drop in its global rankings with respect to mathematics education, plummeting from 7th place in 2006 to 13th place in 2013. In light of this slippage in status, the Canadian government would be wise to consider solutions to these recent educational woes.

Though some have suggested changing the current mathematics curriculum from one that under-emphasizes theory relative to application to a more balanced curriculum, more comprehensive reforms might be required. Though content is an important part of education, so is instruction and Canada is simply not paying its teachers enough. Low salaries have serious ramifications.

They make it more difficult to retain talented instructors and reduce the attractiveness of the profession to potential high-quality instructors. This worsens education outcomes as students are not provided with the optimal environment where they can learn and master important concepts.

In Canada, early childhood educators make about 20,000 to 30,000 CAD. In the United States, early childhood educators make around 30,000 USD. Not unlike being an elementary school teacher in the US, Canadian teachers have to deal with overcrowded classrooms and low literacy rates among those in the lower class. While the latter problem is not directly related to salaries, higher salaries would likely make it easier for instructors to deal with the burden of overcrowding.

Literacy rates would also likely improve as higher quality instructors would make their way into the profession and stay there long term. Increasing the quality of early childhood educators is crucial in the area of literacy because language skills are most easily acquired during a crucial period that starts at the age of five and ends at puberty.

This is precisely the time period where early childhood educators can step in and make an impact. Moreover, picking up mathematics at an early age is essential for mastery at later ages and attracting high quality instructors would stem the rapid decline in education rankings.

Educators do not teach because the profession is lucrative. However, when faced with competing considerations on which profession to choose, salaries can go a long way in promoting individuals to make socially optimal decisions. With a global economy that is rapidly changing and becoming more and more specialized, countries would be foolish to ignore education.

Though Canada has long been a leader in this area, it recently saw a steep drop in global educational rankings. Beyond changes to the curriculum, the Canadian government ought to also consider how much it pays its instructors, especially those who teach children. Though more money is not an instant cure to Canada’s education woes, many of its problem areas could be greatly improved by competitive salaries that attract talent.

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