Nunavik high school students missing credits needed to move into higher education: research
“We’re trying to understand what kind of curriculum we have and what we can improve on”
A review of Nunavik’s school curriculum has found that secondary students are missing key courses needed to get into certain post-secondary programs.
Ongoing research into Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s curriculum and learning outcomes is headed by Sherbrooke University sociologist Sylvain Bourdon, who presented some early findings to the school board’s council of commissioners in Kuujjuaq Dec. 9.
So far, the research suggests that Nunavik’s schools aren’t equipped to teach many secondary-level science and math classes required to apply to certain Cegep – the Quebec equivelant to community college – or university-level programs.
“When we reach secondary studies, that’s where we see that we’re falling behind,” Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s director general, Harriet Keleutak, told commissioners last week.
“It goes to show that in science and math, our students are missing prerequisites to pursue careers in higher education. They have to take extra courses when they get down to Montreal.”
There is no environmental science and technology option in Kativik Ilisarniliriniq schools, for example, though a new environmental science program is being developed.
Students wanting to take health sciences or natural sciences must complete Secondary 5 (the equivelant to Grade 11) chemistry and physics courses elsewhere before entering a post-secondary program.
And in English as a second language, the research found that the required competency level at the end of secondary is below what’s needed for post-secondary education in English.
In terms of Inuktitut-language curriculum in Nunavik’s schools, Keleutak said there is plenty of material, but not enough Inuit instructors to teach it.
Kativik Ilisarniliriniq has no equivalent to Quebec’s broad, formal curriculum — the purpose of the review is to help the school board standardize its programs.
“With the research, we’re trying to understand what kind of curriculum we have and what we can improve on,” Keleutak told Nunatsiaq News.
“They’re trying to understand if we’re lacking compared to second-language learners elsewhere in Quebec.”
Kativik Ilisarniliriniq is unique in Quebec in that its schools teach Inuktitut until Grade 3, at which point students choose a second language: English or French.
“When they go into Grade 4, it’s like they’re starting kindergarten in many ways,” Keleutak said.
Though students and educators have long known about Nunavik’s barriers to higher education, Keleutak said this is the first time the school board has been able to flag and document those gaps.
Researchers are expected to wrap up their work and present their complete findings in mid-2022.
As part of the school board’s review, officials with the board are asking Nunavimmiut to fill out a questionnaire on bilingual education, to weigh in on how Kativik Ilisarniliriniq teaches Inuktitut, English and French.
You can fill out the questionnaire on the school board’s website.