I was happy to attend the all-candidates educational forum put on by Yellowknife Education District No. 1, Yellowknife Catholic Schools, and Commission scolaire francophone Territoires du Nord-Ouest, in Yellowknife. Below I reiteration my stance on several of the educational topics that were asked and discussed during the forum.
Trades as a Career Path
Trades are a critical part of the NWT industry, with many students developing an interest in this career path through the program offerings in our schools. Whether or not they receive a high school diploma, apprentices must pass an academic exam as part of their entrance to trades.
Trades in the NWT are affected by many factors, including Aurora College, the possibility of a polytechnic university, the safety and fair treatment of young apprentices, and incentives for employers to take on apprentices and tradespeople.
How do you plan to build on the foundations that we have, and remove barriers to our youth becoming part of the trades’ workforce?
According to Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) by 2030 over 11,000 youth will be the school system and entering the workforce. In their labour market study, “Skills 4 Success the GNWT estimates 8% of opportunities will be in the trades, stating “by 2030 there will be 2312 trade related job openings”. Trade salaries range from $116,081 for electricians to over $90,00 for machine operators. Continuing and offering more digital technology courses will be important as we continue to provide meaningful futures for our youth. A Polytechnic University should not be a threat to the trades programs. They are the foundation of post secondary education in the North. The evolution of a Polytechnic University must create new opportunities in all areas of northern study but not at the expense of what currently exists. Ongoing trade fairs in all communities where trades are promoted will help our youth discover the options accessible to them. GNWT could also work more closely with businesses and constructions companies, especially Community based Corporations to off and support apprenticeship opportunities in the field, so young people not only have employment but are progressing towards certification.
In the closing days of the 18th Assembly the GNWT Minister of Education called for the need of a reform of our Educational System. A recent CBC article stated “In the 2016-17 school year, only eight per cent of students enrolled in Grade 9 in small communities achieved acceptable standards in standardized math tests. In regional centres, 41.2 per cent of students were at an acceptable level. In English language arts, 17.7 per cent of Grade 9 students in small communities were at an acceptable level, while in regional centres 53 per cent were.”
What do you believe needs to be done so that this new Educational Reform actually produces the positive results we all want when previous Education Reforms failed to meaningful produce positive results?
This is a huge challenge, as there are so many factors at play. The problem is not just an educational one, it includes health issues such as speech therapy, mental health supports, and the management of inclusive education. Inclusive education must also be inclusive of cultural renewal. Students need on the land programs where they learn both traditional skills, sciences and languages and social sciences.
However, no matter what programs are developed, if parents aren’t engaged and a part of the delivery of educational programs then little progress will be achieved. Regrettably many parents have more mistrust than trust in the system, in part due to the legacy of residential schools. We must develop tools of reconciliation as part of the system. Enabling learning using Dene values and systems may help in having more parental engagement and consequently a higher rate of consistent attendance of students.
Universal Child Care
The Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) commissioned a report regarding the benefits of Universal Child Care. Do you support universal child care in the NWT? What actions will you take to ensure this initiative moves ahead?
I completely support universal daycare and will make the implementation my priority. There are no down sides to universal daycare. It benefits families and boosts the economy, as research from Quebec shows.
Currently funding for schools is determined on previous years enrollment, which does not take into consideration the needs of individual schools. What changes can be made to fully support schools based on actual student needs rather than simply on the enrollment numbers?
The funding of schools needs review. A needs-based approach may be more appropriate. I think it is important to hear from educators to determine the best practices for funding education in both Yellowknife and in smaller communities.
If you have any questions about the all-candidates educational forum or my answers, I would be happy to speak with you. Please contact me through my contact page or by calling the number at the bottom of this page.