Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut January 20, 2017 - 7:00 am

GN proposes new independent territory-wide education council

New body would be an advocate for district education authorities, education minister says

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Education Minister Paul Quassa, with his deputy minister Kathy Okpik, speaks at a Nunavut Coalition of District Education Authorities meeting in Iqaluit last October. (FILE PHOTO)
Education Minister Paul Quassa, with his deputy minister Kathy Okpik, speaks at a Nunavut Coalition of District Education Authorities meeting in Iqaluit last October. (FILE PHOTO)

Nunavut’s education officials have proposed a new territory-wide District Education Authority Council, or DEA Council.

Nunavut Education Minister Paul Quassa announced the new body in a New Year’s update and advertisement which his department bought in local media earlier this month.

The proposal is just one of many being presented, as the government works to revamp its Education Act.

In the update, Quassa said the new council would be independent from the Government of Nunavut and directed by elected DEA members.

The new body would be an advocate for education authority bodies in each community, offering “support… in their daily operations and their policy and program development,” he said.

The proposed council appears to replace the Coalition of Nunavut DEAs, which currently advocate for Nunavut’s 26 elected DEAs.

Nunatsiaq News was unable to reach the coalition nor the minister’s office for comment by press time.

The GN’s plans to amend its Education Act, including the make-up of DEAs, has drawn criticism from Nunavummiut during consultations hosted across the territory last year.

That’s because the proposal shifts more responsibility onto educators and administrators and away from community-based DEAs, while re-focusing the role of DEAs on policy governance and local programming.

From the standpoint of DEAs, the fear is that a more centralized administration of education could wipe out regional accountability for the territory’s schools.

In his message to Nunavummiut, Quassa also committed the GN to amending subsection 8(1) of the Inuit Language Protection Act in a way that would clarify “the right of Inuit parents to have the majority of instruction in the Inuit language.”

Quassa said the amendments would help his department make clear what subjects should be taught in Inuktut.

Quassa also said that the GN plans to work with Nunavut Arctic College to conduct a review of the college’s Nunavut Teacher Education Program, and alongside Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., to develop a strong Inuit employment plan.

Nunavut’s current education act came into force in 2008. Since then, the legislation has been through major reviews by the territory’s legislative assembly as well as the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.

Among other changes to the act which have been previously proposed:

• increasing standardization across the territory, including instruction minutes and language of instruction by subject and grade level;

• defining the roles and responsibilities of principals and teaching staff;

• better defining lines of accountability and responsibility between the GN and the territory’s only French-language school board, the Conseil scolaire francophone du Nunavut; and,

• clarifying the role of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit within the legislation.

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