Value of Teacher Volunteerism: some rough numbers

Like the legal and medical profession's requirement to do pro bono work, SHOULD EDUCATORS be required to serve populations that otherwise would not have access to particular areas of learning?  I believe they should.  Access to learning and education benefits society as a whole and an informed populace is necessary to a successful government.  The requirements and how this should be achieved, however, deserves discussion and debate.

This appeared in one of my course discussion boards and got me thinking about  the extent and value of existing teacher volunteerism in the absence of any requirement to do so. In Canada I believe all collective agreements recognize extracurricular work as voluntary.

I'd argue that all extra-curricular activities at schools during lunch breaks and before/after school is pro bono work. My limited research suggests that pro bono obligations in the legal profession are a minimum of 50 hours per year or the equivalent of 3% of annual billing[1].

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation conducted a workload and volunteerism survey[2] finding that 92% of teachers “run and support extracurriculars”. Extrapolating these numbers out to Ontario’s general teaching population of almost 115,000 teachers[3] and 30% volunteering 5 hours per week and 13% at 10 hours per week, that’s well over 12.5 million volunteer hours each year in a 40 week school year and that still only accounts for 43% of teacher volunteers.

That’s a big number.

If we think of an eight hour work day, that’s the equivalent of 1.6 million extra days of labour volunteered into Ontario public schools. That’s the equivalent of an extra 8000 teachers each year. At an average annual salary of $51,000[4], these volunteers are contributing well over $400 million in extra services.

That’s just in Ontario.

With more than 300,000 teachers in Canada[5] we can estimate the value nationwide to be well over one billion dollars.


Just for fun, if the same volunteerism patterns are applied to the United States’ 3.7 million teachers[6] , that’s more than $13.2 billion.

I know it's dangerous to extrapolate study findings too far beyond the target population, and I've rounded numbers (down in all cases) while putting this together, but the broad picture painted is clear. Teachers are already very generous with their time and work hard to keep it voluntary providing individuals the freedom to back off or ramp up as life circumstances change.


[1] Anand, Raj (2007), “Fostering Pro Bono Service in the Legal Profession: Challenges Facing the Pro Bono Ethic” (Paper presented at the Ninth Colloquium on the Legal Profession: Legal Ethics in Action, Osgoode Hall Law School, 19 October 2007), online: Law Society of Upper Canada






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