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Access to arts education varies widely across Ontario: report

A new report from People for Education found only 46 per cent of Ontario elementary schools have a full or part-time music teacher. File photo

TORONTO — A new report suggests students have unequal access to arts programming across Ontario because of uneven funding, a lack of space in schools and fewer qualified arts teachers.

The report, by independent charitable organization People for Education, says students in small and rural schools, in schools with higher levels of poverty, and in schools with lower levels of parental education, are less likely to have access to the arts in the classroom.

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It says arts budgets can vary widely in Ontario schools, and depend in part on the ability of parents to fundraise, contributing to the inequity.

LISTEN: Annie Kidder of People for Education joins The Exchange with Matt Gurney

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Access to qualified arts teachers in Ontario is also a problem, the report says, noting only 46 per cent of elementary schools say they have a full or part-time music teacher, below the 58 per cent from 20 years ago.

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The report also says 43 per cent of elementary schools have no specialized rooms for arts programming.

The report says arts education plays a significant role in students’ learning and development and students should have equitable access to arts resources and programs at both the elementary and secondary levels.

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