Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut September 07, 2018 - 9:20 am

DEA group opposes new Nunavut education proposals

“The government is making us into complainers”

Joamie School in Iqaluit. The Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities said in a statement this week that they will likely reject the Nunavut government's latest proposals for amending the Education Act. (FILE PHOTO)
Joamie School in Iqaluit. The Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities said in a statement this week that they will likely reject the Nunavut government's latest proposals for amending the Education Act. (FILE PHOTO)

The Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities says it will likely reject the Government of Nunavut’s recently released Education Act amendment proposals.

The coalition said in a release on Thursday, Sept. 6, that it was “completely taken by surprise” by Education Minister David Joanasie’s announcement this past Tuesday, when Joanasie said his department would launch an eight-week consultation tour of Nunavut communities.

“For months, the CNDEA has attempted without success to meet with his department on the structure, timing and a better method for a collaborative approach to amend the Education Act,” the news release said.

The current version of the Education Act, passed in 2008, states that the GN must create a fully bilingual Inuktut-English school system by 2019-20, with Inuktut as a language of instruction from kindergarten to Grade 12. In 2013, it became clear that the GN had no hope of meeting that goal, due to a shortage of Inuktut teachers.

Last year’s legislation, called Bill 37, was intended to amend the Education Act and Inuit Language Protection Act to reflect that situation.

Following extensive consultations in 2016, it received first reading in March 2017, but in May 2017, regular MLAs refused to send it to committee of the whole for debate and it later died on the order paper.

The upcoming Department of Education discussions are set to begin Sept. 17 in Rankin Inlet and finish Nov. 27 in Iqaluit.

They’ll focus on educational approaches, the responsibilities of district education authorities and a timetable for introducing the Inuit language as a language of instruction.

The GN’s proposals released on Tuesday, intended to be a starting point for the public discussions, are similar to those contained in the bill that died last year.

The coalition, which for years has sought more power for DEAs, said they don’t like those proposals.

“We are not enthusiastic about revisiting Bill 37. Too much time has been spent trying to centralize authorities. We need to focus our resources on children, language and learning—and stop trying to impose on communities,” said Jedidah Merkosak, the coalition’s chairperson.

The Department of Education had sent a letter to the coalition during the summer, at a time when DEAs do not typically meet, the coalition said.

“The coalition had expressed concerns about the poor timing of the consultations over the summer and what appears to continue roll backs of DEA authorities and reduced commitments to Inuktitut language education,” Merkosak said.

Merkosak says this is not an effective way to consult with communities, but that the coalition would be happy to work with the government based on its Turaaqtavut mandate.

“The government is making us into complainers by constantly trying to consult with us on proposals they clearly know we object to,” Merkosak said.

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(19) Comments:

#1. Posted by Insider on September 07, 2018

The GN is way too incompetent to follow through with any act. Time and time again they have shown us this and it is not changing.

For more than a decade the GN could of set this up where priorities to NTEP were in place to build the capacity of Inuit teachers, standardize Inuktitut, finish a Inuktut curriculum for schools to use. Teaching resources.
Instead we have what we have today.

#2. Posted by Schadenfreude on September 07, 2018

“the coalition would be happy to work with the government based on its Turaaqtavut mandate.”

Right. More platitudinous fluff is exactly what we need.

The future is a dim wit, Nunavut. You’re it.

#3. Posted by Correcting the Record on September 07, 2018

Quote from #1: “For more than a decade the GN could of set this up where priorities to NTEP were in place to build the capacity of Inuit teachers, standardize Inuktitut, finish a Inuktut curriculum for schools to use.”

1.GN put more money into NTEP and added more community based NTEP programs. These new NTEP training courses never attracted enough people. The average size of an NTEP intake is 15 people. Most of these courses could not attract more than six or seven people.

Most of those dropped out and most of the grads quit because they were not qualified or they wanted easier do-nothing jobs in the government.

FACT: Teaching is hard and requires long hours of extracurricular volunteer work on weekends and evenings. Very few Inuit want to become teachers.

How can you blame the GN for that?

2. The GN has pushed standardization for years and years. It’s the people in the communities who do not want standardization of language, because they do not want to lose their little dialects.

FACT: It’s the people in the communities who are stopping standardization.

3. There is lots of Inuktut “curriculum” for every grade. Stop lying about this. The problem is untrained teachers who do not know how to follow the curriculum guidelines and the materials availalble in every school.

FACT: It’s the untrained NTEP teachers who do not know how to use the existing resources.

#4. Posted by Blondie, the man with no name on September 07, 2018

I agree and disagree with you #3, especially your 3rd statement.

I can say when I was in high school 5 years ago our whole inuktituk class passed mandatorily due to the lack of inuktituk teachers. During our classes we were always either watching movies or doing crosswords. We learned nothing for that year in inuktituk class and previous years too. Yes there are inuktuk curriculums in every school but the DEA will not commit unless we push them to, else we’ll have to wait another ten years with empty promises from our government

#5. Posted by Innocent question on September 07, 2018

Why were Inuit language and education rights not included in the Nunavut Agreement?

Who made the decision not to include language and education rights in the Agreement?

It seems to be a pretty huge oversight, because it means that the Nunavut Government can change the territory’s language legislation at will.

#6. Posted by Stone Age Students on September 07, 2018

Meanwhile, outside the insular Nunabubble, elementary school kids are learning code.

I bet our MLA’s don’t even know what that means, eh?

#7. Posted by Dagwood, Kitikmeot. on September 07, 2018

#4, A very true statement, me and my friends had an education that
was very lacking in Inuktitut, because of the pathetic Inuktitut language
I think we have left it too late, for too long

I have wondered that also, and look at the way it is now ! ,

#8. Posted by Insider on September 07, 2018

#3 so what you are saying is that the GN is not the problem and everything that is wrong with the education system is the people fault?

Sorry I stand by my comment and the GN needs to do a much better job and correct itself and make the improvements.
Also there is no Inuktitut curriculum in place, every school for themselves, there are some guidelines for some things but again no curriculum!

Now imagine English, math or science not having the same standards with no curriculum. I bet you would have a different tone.

#9. Posted by Klaus on September 07, 2018

I wonder how it works in our neighbors to the east? Seems to work great over there but we can’t make it work over here. What is the difference?

#10. Posted by Ms.Tupak on September 07, 2018

Bring the teacher program to the community, even if it’s a small community for two years.
After graduation , have the teacher students move to another community to be exposed to working with other children and families other then their own.

#11. Posted by Of course.... on September 07, 2018

The CNDEA has always been more about complaining than contributing; most DEA’s do not have the capability to meet their mandates under the current act and many don’t really want all of the responsibilities; they need less and need to lead in the community more…for example- get the kids to school everyday. Nunavut cannot handle community by community decision making on such an important topic. Education, particularly Inuktut must be standardized…. don’t wait any longer.

#12. Posted by Nunavut on September 07, 2018

Why not stop this nonsense about language madatory? It should be up to the parents and grandparents to teach the language. Just encouraging parental figures not to be involved in a childs education. Make our language mandetory in elementary. Let high school students focus on graduating on an actual/meaningful diploma that will be recognized all over Canada. Quit having multiple grade levels just so kids can be in the same class as there age level. The latter makes it possible for most to stick together until high school and hardly ever focus on schoolwork. Once they get to HS they have no clue what to do, then drop out or find a way to get expelled.

#13. Posted by David on September 09, 2018

“The government is making us into complainers”

Yes we’re complainers, but it’s the government’s fault HA HA.  Who even says that out loud?

#14. Posted by Teacher on September 10, 2018

NTEP remaining in Iqaluit for the umpteenth year is not working. Full stop.  Therefore, um, drumroll, do something different. 
Also Nunavut cannot attract teachers period.  Let alone all this hype on the language.  One thing at a time.  A tour to determine nothing!  Save the costs and do online polls and use your local GLOs to collect ideas and drop the woe-is-me story to get to the solutions.

Would you tackle the garbage bin in your home when your roof is leaking?

#15. Posted by iThink on September 10, 2018

Gathering from the comments we regularly see in this forum, and from the teachers I have known, it seems Inuit language teaching has been beyond sub par.

So why has this been allowed to continue?

What forces are at work making people afraid to call out the problem?

I think an effective use of the Department’s energy and resources would be to develop a course that encompasses Inuit language and Culture.

Suspend, for now, the idea of teaching the sciences and mathematics in Inuktitut. This is not necessary and it only compounds the work and the problems in developing a curriculum that might not currently be teachable, lacking an adequate number of teachers for these subjects for the foreseeable future.

#16. Posted by Shadout Mapes on September 10, 2018

Between 1986, when it was first offered, and 2013, NTEP graduated 85 students, of which only a portion took up teaching.

NTEP’s focus has been on graduating teachers who are qualified to teach grades kindergarten through 6. Clearly NTEP isn’t going to be the answer, at least not in the short term.

A note on the GN: the GN isn’t some magical entity with unlimited capacity and resources. It’s made up of individual people who, under the direction of leaders, perform tasks aimed at running program lines and providing services.  You are the GN.  I am the GN. It’s a bunch of people, doing jobs.

Maybe the problem is systemic, in which case, we need to change the system. But if the problem is capacity, then all we can do is work on building capacity. I use the term “we” advisedly. No one is the innocent victim here.  We all have a role to play.  What are you doing?

#17. Posted by Full Tank on September 10, 2018

Thank you #16. Data should always take the lead over dogma.

#14 I’ve always wondered what it mean when someone says “Full stop” in their comments? Care to share?

#18. Posted by Revamp NTEP on September 11, 2018

One of the issues is that NTEP is a weak program. Students spend 6 weeks studying one subject and then move on to another- this is not done in other universities. If a student misses a few days due to illness or something, they get very far behind very quickly. I’ve heard the quality of the instructors is not good, and the students do not have a lot of support or resources. Fix NTEP!

#19. Posted by GN on September 12, 2018

There is a lot of fixing that needs to be done by GN/Arctic College. Make it a priority like the law program and produce teachers.

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