'Questions are being raised concerning the academic level in Northern Quebec Schools.'

Native committee to conduct education survey


The Native Committee of the Northern Quebec Teaching Association, which represents more than 700 teachers and support staff in Nunavik, wants to conduct a public survey to see how Nunavimmiut feel about their region's educational system.

"Clearly, many questions are being raised concerning the academic level in Northern Quebec Schools. It is a well-known fact that the academic level reached by the students in these schools is lower than in most of the other school boards of the country," said the union committee of the Association d'enseignement du Nouveau-Québec, a five-member body whose members include Eva Inukpuk of Inukjuak, Charlie Etok of Kangiqsualujjuaq and the union's president, Patrick d'Astous of Waswanipi.

The committee recently produced seven recommendations, which include a call for the Kativik School Board to produce the material needed for Inuttitut-language pre-Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes before starting to develop any material in Inuttitut for higher grades.

At the Katimajiit meeting in August, Quebec announced the KSB would receive $375,000 to develop an Inuttitut curriculum for students in Grades 4, 5 and 6. This would boost the percentage of time students spend in Inuttitut-language classes to 50 per cent in Grade 4, 30 per cent in Grade 5 and 20 per cent in Grade 6.

The committee said the burden on Inuit teachers is already so heavy that it's difficult to attract and retain Inuit teachers.

"When you go in a Cree or Inuit community, if you go near the school in the evening or on the weekends, the only teachers you see are the local ones because they have to produce their materials as they go," said the union's president, Patrick d'Astous.

The committee also wants to make sure Inuit teachers' diplomas and certifications are upgraded so they can work as teachers outside of Nunavik. The committee said Cree and Inuit teachers should receive training on par with southern universities' teacher training programs, which would lead to diplomas and certification recognized anywhere in Quebec.

And the committee members said they would continue pressing the KSB to return to an adapted version of its school calendar, "taking into consideration the reality of the traditional life of Nunavik Inuit and respecting the spirit of the teachers' collective agreement that specify the right to eight consecutive weeks of vacation to all teachers."

The KSB changed the school calendar three years ago, and the change now means teachers work until the end of June.

The union says the extension of the school year has negative effects: many Inuit teachers who attend teacher-training courses during the summer have little break time between work and the start of summer school; the rate of student absenteeism in the schools rises as June progresses; and success in final exams drops.

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