Nunavik still short seven teachers

Board blames recruiting competition in south


Schools throughout Nunavik started up on Aug. 15. but there weren’t enough teachers to greet all students in every community.

Kangiqsualujjuaq, Kuujjuaq, Salluit, Ivujivik and Umiujaq were still lacking a total of seven teachers at the start of classes, according to information from the human resources department of the Kativik School Board,

The missing teachers were all for students who study in English after Grade 3.

This year, the KSB hired 36 new teachers for its French language stream and 31 new teachers for the English stream, with a total of 96 French teachers and about 87 English teachers.

About 135 Inuit teachers are on staff, and the KSB is looking for a few replacements for some who are on maternity leave.

“This turnover is considered average,” said KSB spokesperson Debbie Astroff.

This is the first time that the school board has had trouble filling positions for its English-language stream, although in past years, the KSB had had to scramble to recruit enough French-language teachers.

“The reason seems to be that thousands of teaching jobs have opened up, especially in Ontario and Nova Scotia, two major areas that we recruit from,” Astroff said.

Only one school in Nunavik, Sautjuit School in Kangirsuk, was still missing a principal, although none of the Centre Director positions, generally filled by Inuit, are vacant.

The 2006-2007 school year is the first in which all KSB schools open and close on the same date.

The school board says this change is necessary to standardize the curriculum and exams. The change means that exams will be given on the same day throughout Nunavik, and that teachers in each community must use the same program materials.

“The purpose behind these standardization procedures is to ensure that all kids have the same chance to learn the same thing, and to graduate with the same knowledge,” Astroff said.

Last year, more than 400 Nunavimmiut signed a petition asking for the school year to end two weeks earlier than scheduled.

But the KSB said it had no plans to revisit a decision taken by school board commissioners in 2004 to extend the school year by 10 days.

Before 2005, the school year ended in early June.

Now, it starts a little bit earlier everywhere and ends later in June.

The Northern Quebec union for teachers, l’Association de l’enseignement du Nouveau-Quebec, circulated the petition asking for a return to a shorter year.

The petition said the extension of the school year has too many negative effects: many 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.

The union wanted to add a few minutes a day to class-time during the year, and drop one planning day, so that school would end once again in early June.

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