Half of all teachers in Brazil believe their occupation is undervalued and would not recommend young people to become educators, according to a survey entitled Profissão docente (“The Teaching Profession”), an initiative by organization Todos Pela Educação and private foundation Itaú Social.
According to the study, conducted by pollster Ibope Inteligência in collaboration with Conhecimento Social Network, most teachers (78%) said they chose the career chiefly because they could relate to the occupation. However, one out of every three teachers said they are totally dissatisfied with the trade, whereas one of every five said they are totally satisfied.
The survey heard 2,160 public and private primary school teachers across the country on such topics as training, work, and job appreciation. The sampling method took into account the amount of teachers in public and private schools, grades, and geographic regions, as per data from Brazil’s official school census.
Olavo Nogueira Filho, director for educational policies with Todos Pela Educação, describes the figures as alarming. He stressed the need for rethinking teacher appreciation in Brazil.
“We’ve long been familiar with the challenge of undervaluing the teaching profession, the lack of prestige, but I think the new data serve to show once again that we have a long way ahead of us regarding how much this career should be appreciated,” he argued.
As measures key to addressing this issue, teachers named continuing education (69%) and listening to teachers in the drafting of policies for education (67%). Restoring the authority of teachers and the respect associated with it were regarded as urgent by 64% of respondents, followed by pay raise (62%).
These numbers come to debunk the misconception that money is the crux of the problem, Nogueira Filho pointed out.
“Over all, the debate has placed virtually exclusive emphasis on the pay issue. Indeed, this topic stands out as one of the chief measures for valuing the profession, but it doesn’t appear as the main one in the survey. […] The issue should be considered beyond the salary.”
In Brazil, teachers usually make some $1.2 thousand a month. For most (71%), teaching is the main source of income in the household, whereas 29% say they have additional sources of income.
A mere 30% of teachers have at least a third of their working hours dedicated to class planning alone.
The educators heard in the study consider it to be the job of local authorities to offer opportunities in continuing education (76%), but do not agree that educational programs are usually well in line with the reality facing schools (66%).
The respondents mentioned the lack of a “good communication channel” between policy-makers and teachers (64%), and argue teachers are not involved in the making of public policies (72%). Also listed as major problems that have been poorly addressed are support concerning health and psychological issues (84%), and pay (73%).
Officials from the Ministry of Education and the National Council for Secretaries of Education (Consed) failed to respond to our contact by the time this article was published.