Tapardjuk aims to keep more male teens in school
Nunavut’s education department plans to bring more elders into the schools and try to keep more students — especially young males — in school, education minister Louis Tapardjuk said in the Nunavut legislature last week.
His department wants to spend $800,000 this year to determine how to integrate elders into the school system, said Tapardjuk, speaking June 15 in the Nunavut legislature’s committee of the whole.
“We have to have a discussion with the education authorities to see how they [elders] are going to be compensated and what their roles will be in the schools,” Tapardjuk said.
The goal is not to put elders into a classroom, Tapardjuk said, but to see elders teach cultural or language programs.
“They will be available in the schools, and what we’re currently doing is figuring out how we can utilize those elders’ knowledge and what they can expect from being incorporated into the school system,” Tapardjuk said. “This is going to be a new initiative, and one of our questions will ask the elders is what they would like to see in the schools.”
The education department will also test and enlarge a new program designed to keep male teens in school. To this end, the education department is already testing out a pilot program in Pangnirtung.
“What we’re trying to do is make a change so that we can get more young men involved in the educational system. This is going to be one of our priorities, because we have to look at a new strategy to increase the number of young men in the school system,” Tapardjuk said.
The education department also plans to produce “positive school environment support manuals,” deputy minister Kathy Okpik also told the committee of the whole on June 15, in response to a question from Quttiktuq MLA Ron Elliott, the co-chair of the standing committee on social wellness.
Elliott wanted to know how this manual planned to address attendance and discipline issues and how the district education authorities would be involved in the production of these manuals.
Each school will make up its own plan in collaboration with other groups, if that’s called for, Okpik said.
“Once an important issue has been identified, for example, if it is the attendance, then we will start working on it and that will be our priority. However, if the main issue is identified as being related to the Inuit culture or language, for example, and the school feels that this is important, then they will start working on a manual focusing on this issue with staff members, the community District Education Authority, and the parents,” she said.
“Some attendance issues” in schools will also be addressed by a new department of education attendance policy, which should be adopted by July 1, she said.
This policy will be called Inuuqatigiittiarniq (Inuit living in harmony).
The education department will work with the DEAs on developing their Inuuqatigiittiarniq policy, with support and assistance from the elders.
“Each school will have to come up with their own school team so that they can provide support to the students who have problems within the school or outside the school, or if they have any attendance problems, so that they can be assisted,” Okpik told the committee.