Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut June 29, 2016 - 2:45 pm

Nunavut’s Education Act should align with Inuit rights: NTI

"Education reforms must strengthen our right to be educated in Inuktut"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
GN officials meet with Iqalungmiut earlier this month to talk about the proposed amendments to the Education Act. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
GN officials meet with Iqalungmiut earlier this month to talk about the proposed amendments to the Education Act. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

Inuit must play a role in the design and delivery of any upcoming changes to the territory’s education system, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. said this week.

NTI’s message is directed at the Government of Nunavut which is currently amending and updating its Education Act.

The GN is now hosting consultations with district education authorities and members of the public to gather feedback on its proposed changes.

But however Nunavut’s education system evolves, Inuit language, culture and identity must remain at the foundation of that system, said NTI vice-president James Eetoolook in a June 28 release.

“Education reforms must strengthen our right to be educated in Inuktut, promote Inuit cultural instruction and Inuit identity, and dramatically increase the number of Inuit teachers in our schools,” Eetoolook said.

Nunavut’s current education act came into force in 2008 but has since undergone several reviews — by the territory’s legislative assembly as well as the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.

Among changes to the act which have been proposed: increased standardization across the territory, clarifying the role of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and redefining the role of district educational authorities, to shift more responsibility onto educators.

Recent consultations have raised fears that a more centralized administration could take power away from communities to have a say in their children’s education.

Nunavummiut have also expressed concern about the timing of summer consultations, during a period of the year when children are out of school and families are often out on the land. Those consultations will continue in September.

But the territorial government is pushing to bring in a new act before its term expires in 2017.

For its part, NTI wants to see the DEAs receive more training and resources and maintain decision-making authority for staffing, operations, curriculum and language of instruction.

The organization also wants to see regional boards re-established to support DEAs.

In order to develop an Education Act that reflects the goals of Inuit, NTI is calling for Inuktut instruction to be offered for at least 80 per cent of educational programs, from Kindergarten to grade 12.

NTI also points to Article 23 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement which calls for 85 per cent Inuit teachers and principals.

“It is possible to meet [those] objectives in partnership with NTI,” the Inuit birthright organization said.

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