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College of Teachers Will Seek Innovative Ways to Assess Refugee's Teaching Qualifications

January 17 2007

  • Backgrounder
  • January 17, 2007 (Toronto) – The Ontario College of Teachers is today inviting Iranian refugee Fatima Siadat and her lawyer to a meeting to discuss alternate methods the College could use to determine her professional credentials.

    “We have accepted the judgment of the court,” said College Registrar Brian McGowan. “We look forward to an early meeting to discuss how we can assess whether Ms. Siadat can meet the requirements for an Ontario teaching licence. This is a unique case, and the court clearly wants us to make individualized efforts that recognize the difficulties faced by convention refugees.

    “Over the years, we have developed a number of flexible approaches to evaluating international teaching credentials. So far, we have not been able to apply any of these to Ms. Siadat’s case. The court has told us to try harder and we will. We have some options to suggest and will seriously consider any others that Ms. Siadat and her lawyer suggest.”

    Siadat originally applied to the Ontario Ministry of Education for a teaching certificate in 1993. She was unable to supply documents proving she met the requirements for certification and the ministry did not grant her a teaching certificate.

    The College took over teacher certification responsibilities from the government in May 1997, applying the same laws and regulations that the Ministry of Education had.

    “Those rules and regulations governing teacher qualifications in Ontario haven’t changed substantially in more than 25 years,” said McGowan.

    “Over the last two years, we have developed sweeping recommendations for changes in teacher qualifications to bring these requirements into the 21st century. We’ll be working with the government over the coming months to implement those changes.

    “One of the significant proposals our College Council voted to pursue last September is the implementation of prior learning assessment for applicants like Ms. Siadat. This is a very important departure from the strictly credential-based assessment process that we assumed 10 years ago.

    “At the same time, we have been implementing a number of measures internally that permit us to apply the requirements in the regulation more flexibly. We also provide vastly expanded services to internationally educated teachers, both here at the College and through our partnership in Teach in Ontario.

    “As the court recognized in the Siadat decision, the College has a duty to protect the public interest.

    “We need to be able to assure parents, students and Ontario school boards that the teachers we license have the subject knowledge and teaching qualifications to ensure that their students receive the best quality education. 

    “They also must be able to provide proof that they have the necessary communication skills in English or French to teach effectively.”

    College staff meets regularly with immigrant teachers – both individually and in groups – and assists them to provide evidence of their qualifications and credentials. Some examples of the special support and alternatives the College provides in unique circumstances:

    • In circumstances in which an institution may no longer have the academic records for an applicant, the College would accept copies of the applicant’s documents and send these copies to the institution to be verified.
    • The College co-operates with embassies and consulates to obtain documents for applicants and to confirm their authenticity and intervenes on behalf of applicants to convince institutions in their homelands to provide documents.

    The College of Teachers is a partner with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and immigrant settlement organizations in Teach in Ontario, which assists internationally educated teachers in meeting language proficiency and other certification requirements, and seeking teaching jobs. Teach in Ontario is funded by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

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    The Ontario College of Teachers licenses, governs and regulates the profession of teaching in the public interest. It sets standards of practice and ethical standards, conducts disciplinary hearings and accredits teacher education programs affecting more than 206,000 members in publicly funded schools and institutions across Ontario. The College is the largest self-regulatory body in Canada.

    For more information:
    Brian Jamieson 416-961-8800, ext. 655
    Toll-free 1-888-534-2222, ext. 655

    101 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON, M5S 0A1, P: 416.961.8800 / Toll Free (Ontario Only): 1.888.534.2222 / F: 416.961.8822 / info@oct.ca

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