Nunavik school board equips students with laptops, but bandwidth still a barrier

“They’re working on it. But it’s not fast enough.”

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s head office in Kuujjuaq. The Association of Employees of Northern Quebec, which represents Nunavik teachers and support staff, said its members showed overwhelmingly support for a strike mandate during a Wednesday vote. (File photo by Sarah Rogers)

By Sarah Rogers

Kativik Ilisarniliriniq has purchased 1,400 new laptops the school board is preparing to deploy to secondary students across Nunavik in the new year.

The laptops will first go to secondary 3, 4 and 5 students – which is the equivalent of Grades 9, 10 and 11.  This will prepare for the possibility of moving to learning from home in 2021, in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak in the region.

The school board’s IT department is configuring the new computers so they can be distributed to students after the holiday break. Students will use them in class as long as school remains open, said Harriet Keleutak, director general of Kativik Ilisarniliriniq.

The laptops cost the school board about $150,000, Keleutak said, with financial help from the federal government — via Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Makivik Corp. — as well as the Mastercard Foundation.

Should Nunavik schools need to close in 2021, the school board said it has a temporary plan in place, with 28-days of learning material.

Beyond that, Keleutak said the school board is still hoping to secure more technology in the new year.

“We’re still looking for computers for all of our students,” she said.

There are approximately 3,200 students enrolled through Kativik Ilisarniliriniq this year. Next, the board hopes to equip students in Grades 5 and 6 with computers.

Schools in all 14 Nunavik communities were closed in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe. They reopened at the end of August and, despite some delays and staffing shortages, have remained open and free of COVID-19 cases.

Despite a couple of active cases of COVID-19 in the region, Nunavik has largely avoided the virus.

But if Kativik Ilisarniliriniq ends up having to move classes online, the school board will have to deal with a cripplingly slow internet connection.

“We’ve been lobbying the [Quebec] government to ensure they’ll improve our bandwidth, and they’re working on it,” Keleutak said. “But it’s not fast enough.”

The school board’s council of commissioners passed a resolution at meetings in Kuujjuaq Dec. 9 calling on the Quebec government to make immediate investments in telecommunications in Nunavik — particularly its education system.

“We had post-secondary students who came back home to do their studies this year, and sometimes they have to wait until the middle of the night to download materials,” Keleutak said. “It’s really slow.”

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by iilan tuugak on

    Someone should write a letter to Elon for Starlink.

    • Posted by Nunavimiuk on

      I m willing to switch from Tamani to Starlink , when ever avialible

  2. Posted by It’s loading on

    Interesting. KI is in this with the other useless organizations that are failing the whole population, not just students. You think after more than 40 years of doing , and the millions of dollars that we could see progress in Nunavik, school , education, and it would mean by now the best for internet. Yes behind the times, and the chat continues, but not online. Not many out there in Nunaviks internet land came hopping in from an education from KI s doing.

  3. Posted by iPod forgotten?? on

    So what happened to the hundreds and hundreds of iPods purchased over the past few years for the schools and all the software developed? What a total waste!

  4. Posted by Ki is a joke on

    Too many people working at kI from one little small Ungava community. They come from a cult religious group in a little town by the sea. One family. They have no respect for other views but their own. They burn electronic and music cds in community cleansing and healing. Their kids have no Halloween as they considered it evilness, yes they are working at kI and steering the education of our students. It’s time they be removed.

    • Posted by NUNAVIMIUK on

      That town by the sea has a transporter (STAR TREK) to heaven , so , if you want to go to heaven , be nice to the people , who run KI.

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