Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut June 06, 2018 - 9:30 am

Once again, GN to work on Nunavut Education Act amendments

“We expect this process to begin in the fall”

Education Minister David Joanasie said June 4 that the Government of Nunavut will start consultations this fall on amendments to the Education Act. (FILE PHOTO)
Education Minister David Joanasie said June 4 that the Government of Nunavut will start consultations this fall on amendments to the Education Act. (FILE PHOTO)

The Nunavut government will start community consultations this fall on possible amendments to the Education Act that could be presented in the winter 2019 session of the legislature, Education Minister David Joanasie said earlier this week, on June 4.

Joanasie provided the information in response to a question from Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser.

The summer is not a good time to do community consultations in Nunavut, because many residents are on the land during that season, he said.

So the GN will wait until the fall to start consultation work.

“Due to that reason amongst others, we expect this process to begin in the fall when the DEAs [District Education Authorities] and our partners, such as the Coalition of DEAs, Inuit organizations, and other stakeholders within the education system are available,” Joanasie said.

And that process will also include a community tour.

Following consultations, the GN hopes to table legislation in 2019, Joanasie said.

“We anticipate after the fall consultations, in the upcoming winter session of 2019, we would then try to table it in the House,” he said.

The current version of the Nunavut Education Act dates to 2008.

That version of the act requires that the GN create a fully-bilingual English-Inuktut school system from kindergarten to Grade 12, with the entire education program taught in both languages, by 2019-20.

As of 2009-10, shortly after passage of the act, the GN offered bilingual instruction from kindergarten to Grade 3 only.

That’s when the GN was supposed to start creating its ambitious fully bilingual system, grade by grade, year by year.

In 2013-14, they were supposed to extend bilingual instruction to Grade 4, to Grade 5 in 2014-15, one year at a time, until 2019-20, when they were committed to extending complete bilingual, Inuktut-English education as far as Grades 10, 11 and 12.

In 2013, the auditor general of Canada found the GN had no hope of coming close to meeting that goal.

And that also means the Nunavut government is not in compliance with its Education Act.

The last Nunavut government tried to amend the Education Act through Bill 37, which tied the extension of bilingual education to the GN’s capacity to carry it out.

But that set of amendments crashed and burned after regular MLAs refused to debate the bill, which died on the order paper.

Meanwhile, Joanasie partly dodged questions from Arviat-North MLA John Main, who asked if it’s mandatory for students to pass the Alberta departmental exam before they are allowed to receive a Grade 12 diploma.

Joanasie did not provide a yes or no answer to that question, but did say students need 100 credits to graduate.

The 2013 auditor general’s report found that Grade 12 students get a final mark by blending the mark assigned by their teacher with the mark they receive in the Alberta exam.

The auditor general’s report found, however, that classroom grades in Nunavut Grade 12 are much higher than Alberta exam grades.

“On average, we found that for the three school years we tested, the classroom grade was 26 percent higher than the standardized test grade. For the 2010–11 school year, the difference was 30 per cent,” the auditor general said.

“By comparison, schools in Whitehorse, Yukon, had class marks in various courses that averaged 4 per cent higher than the related standardized exam mark that year,” the report said.

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(16) Comments:

#1. Posted by Northern Guy on June 06, 2018

In belated response to Mr. Main’s question. Yes it is mandatory that students pass the Alberta departmental exams starting in grade 10. That requirement is one of the reasons why there is such a high school attrition rate from Grade 10 onwards in Nunavut. Students who were allowed to move from grade to grade with no real evaluation of their academic capacity suddenly find themselves very poorly equipped to meet the standards of that exam and as a result they drop out.

#2. Posted by Oscar on June 06, 2018

It’s called “SOCIAL PROMOTION” within the school system. #1, you are right by saying that our children today lack the proper educational skills to advance further into College or University. IMHO, no child should be advanced in school when they don’t have the academic skills to pass the current grade that they are in.

The entire system has to be revamped to ensure our children and future generations had the required skills to get into post secondary education. Currently our education system is FAILING our children.

But then again, it all starts “AT HOME”. The parents must set a good example for their children.

#3. Posted by Graduate? on June 06, 2018

I was proud to have graduated in the 90s, then applied for university a couple years later only to find out my education doesn’t meet their requirements.
That was a blow to my confidence and didn’t pursue post secondary education ever since.

#4. Posted by minster’s reply... not a yes or a no on June 06, 2018

#1, from the minster’s reply… not a yes or a no… saying students only need 100 credits… (guess with magical blending of classroom work). 

This means, it’s assumed Nunavut Education is doing a major fudging to get passing students. 

It defiantly looks like a student today can fail the Alberta departmental exams and still pass grade 12 with possible high 70’s marks.

#5. Posted by Putuguk on June 06, 2018

I think there is more background needed in another part of the story.

A student’s final mark is made up of 50% class mark, and 50% Alberta exam mark.

The exam is the only objective 3rd party evaluation of students we have. And no, the exam is not terribly culturally biased. Alberta education rates high internationally and has a high immigrant student population.

Educators know this. They also know students are generally poor academically as Northern Guy says.

They have a strategy responding to political pressure to produce as many graduates as possible given the situation.

They score the class mark as high as they can, knowing many will bomb the exam.

If a student has both a low class and exam mark, they will surely fail.

But if the student fails the exam, but has a great class mark, they can still pass. 

Such a blatant difference between class and exam marks shows Nunavut educators are rigging the system and making a mockery of the value of a high school diploma.

#6. Posted by Peter Ivalu on June 06, 2018

Revamped? I say kill the act and come up with a new one that will ensure students succeed in post-secondary.
This act from ‘08 has done nothing but hindered a lot of graduates’ dream of succeeding in college or university.
Ever since It’s enactment we have seen the erosion of quality education let alone any education. The Leg. is so hell bent on increasing graduation rates that our students suffer from no quality education. Watch this group of MLAs and several ones after them continue to try and “improve” education by lowering the standards.

#7. Posted by wondering on June 06, 2018

aren’t the departmental exams levied in grades 6, 9, and 12?

#8. Posted by Sampson on June 06, 2018

@ minister’s reply:

Yes, or, put another way, a Nunavut student’s B+ translates to an Alberta F.

#9. Posted by previous on June 06, 2018

the last education minister, Paul Quassa did an interview with CBC about the need to change the grading system in the high school, on the site it stated that:

Traditionally, Grade 12 exams made up 50 per cent of a student’s final mark. Under the change, they now constitute only 30 per cent — with classroom studies making up 70 per cent.

So, the students only need a 30 percentage with the Alberta exams to pass, but will need more marks in the classroom assignments.

check it out from:

this may be to help get more graduates in Nunavut to help look good in the Government books?

#10. Posted by 2017 graduate on June 06, 2018

#5 as of last year the Alberta exam is only worth 30% of the student’s final mark.

#11. Posted by Grade 12 on June 06, 2018

Alberta exams are only done at the end of Grade 12 - not 10, 11 and 12. They are worth 30% of the student final mark when combined with class mark. In other places, class mark and exam mark are usually the same or very close. In Nunavut, they are given higher class marks so they can get less on the exam and still graduate. it should not be that way, that does not help ther students

#12. Posted by Jeff on June 06, 2018

Just for fun should give all the mlas a GED exam and see if they would qualify for grade 12. I wonder how many mlas passed grade 12?

#13. Posted by pissed off on June 06, 2018

Class marks and Alberta exam marks should ( I repeat ) should be more or less equal.
There should not be such a disparity unless as many have said, the education syatem , through the teachers, is rigged to show some success.

You cannot be a swell student and then fail miserably the formal exam. Otherwise it is just a popularity contest led by self pity and obvious intents.

#14. Posted by Been There, Done That on June 06, 2018

Nunavut Grad Requirements

English - Grades 10, 11, and 12
Math - Grades 10 and 11
Social Studies - Grades 10 and 11
Science - Grades 10 and 11
Aulajaaqtut - Grades 10 and 11
Phy Ed - Grade 10
Career & Technology Studies - 5 credits
Fine Arts - Grade 10
Additional Grade 12 Courses - 10 credits
Any other courses in Grades 10, 11, or 12 - 22 credits

Minimum to graduate = 100 credits


Not all courses are equal. 

Courses can be level 1 or level 2 or level 3 or level 4.  They all get you a HS diploma.


To get into a college program you will need certain courses, it varies from college to college and program to program.

To get into any university you need 5 courses level 1 in grade 12, one must be English 30-1.  For most university programs you need Math 30-1 and a 30-1 science.  You also need high marks in all your grade 12 courses.

Many HS grads spend 2 years at NAC to get credits they need to get into the program they want. That takes half their FANS money.

#15. Posted by Butthole Surfer on June 06, 2018

#13 I agree with you, they should be relatively equal, the less equal they are the more telling the classroom mark is.


#16. Posted by ask what you can do on June 07, 2018

Thanks #9

From our former EDUCATION minister. Painful. The organized downward spiral continues. We must stop condoning and funding this charade:

“On Monday, Nunavut’s Education Minister Paul Quassa was in Yellowknife to renew its agreement with Alberta to use the province’s exams for the next five years.

At the event, Quassa refused to answer questions about the recent gap in marks, saying he was unfamiliar with the numbers — but maintained that Nunavut’s education system is “very rigorous.”

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