The average Canadian teacher dug deep into his or her own pockets, spending just over $450 a year on materials or class-related activities last year, according to a survey by the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF).
CTF National President Mary-Lou Donnelly said in a press release that one of the barometers of the underfunding in education is the growing need of outside funding.
"Teachers in classrooms across this country are spending significant sums of their own money to fill the funding gap in order to address their students' learning needs," she says, noting that a similar survey conducted by CTF five years earlier estimated the average amount spent per teacher at $344.
Considering that around $90 million was spent by almost 200,000 teachers to improve their classrooms, this new data shows the significant financial contribution Canadian teachers give to their students.
"This speaks to the bigger issue - the dramatic decline of education funding over time in Canada. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), Canada ranks below the international average in expenditures on education in a comparison of funding of the primary, secondary and post secondary levels," concludes Donnelly.
Teachers aren't the only ones helping their schools operate. Parents, students and community members help fill the funding gaps.
The survey found that 95 percent of teacher respondents noted their schools regularly conduct fundraising activities through sales, community donations, contests and admission fees to school-related activities.
The online survey involved 328 Canadian teachers from across the country between Feb. 28 and March 1, 2010.