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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