Arvaluk announces K-12 Inuktitut course

Nunavut’s education minister announced a new Inuktitut language arts curriculum to be offered at all grade levels in Nunavut’s schools next year.



RANKIN INLET — Education Minister James Arvaluk announced this week that his department will be able to provide an Inuktitut language arts curriculum for all grade levels in Nunavut by the beginning of the next school year.

“For the opening of the new school year, we will be able to have curriculum and resources available for all grade levels for Inuktitut language arts,” Arvaluk told the legislature Tuesday, in a speech that was part announcement, and part pre-budget funding pitch.

Significant work on the curriculum had been accomplished since April 1, 1999, Arvaluk said.

He announced his intention to have three other curriculum areas developed, but confessed there was no budget for their development and said he was looking for funding support.

“For the last 30 years, Inuit educators have been promised curricula and resources for teaching in Inuktitut. The federal government has funded this work. After 30 years there is very little to show for it,” he said.

The unfulfilled promises have lead to frustration among teachers and the exposure of Inuit children to southern-style schooling, Arvaluk said.

The three new areas Arvaluk said he wants to focus on developing are a social studies curriculum entitled Nunavusiutit, a curriculum called Inuuqatigingiq to help students develop “a sense of their place in the world,” and second language curricula for English, French, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun.

“We want our students to be strongly bilingual,” Arvaluk said.

The second languages curricula await recommendations from “the language of instruction research,” Arvaluk said.

In the meantime, guidelines and benchmarks for second language courses are being prepared by department staff. Arvaluk said these guidelines would also be ready for the coming year.

But, Arvaluk said his department has no budget for the development of these three new study areas.

“Curriculum design and development is a long and costly process,” he said. Extensive collaboration with elders, students, parents and teachers, printed learning materials and field testing of new curricula are all necessary to do the job properly, he said. But the early childhood and social services division of Arvaluk’s department has no budget for any of these tasks.

“We will be looking for funding support for curriculum development so that our students and Inuit educators finally receive the support, the resources and leadership they deserve,” he said.

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