Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik September 21, 2016 - 4:00 pm

Nunavik’s stay-in-school project enters second phase

Esuma will now focus on parenting, community-based initiatives

SARAH ROGERS
Esuma, Nunavik's multi-partner, stay-in-school project, completed its 2012-2015 mandate and has now received more funding to run for another three-year period, from 2016-2019. Organizations can go to www.esuma.ca to apply for funding.
Esuma, Nunavik's multi-partner, stay-in-school project, completed its 2012-2015 mandate and has now received more funding to run for another three-year period, from 2016-2019. Organizations can go to www.esuma.ca to apply for funding.

KUUJJUAQ—Nunavik’s multi-organizational effort to tackle drop-out rates in the region has wound down its first phase, with plans to ramp up a second phase focused on community action.

Esuma, roughly translated as “thinking” in Inuktitut, is based on a Quebec model that recognizes drop-out rates as a social problem, rather than an educational one.

It launched in 2012 with $1.5 million in funding from the Quebec government.

Since then, the project has funded over 25 different stay-in-school initiatives, from an Inuktitut-language television series, to after-school music and science programming and traditional summer camps.

“Like with any project starting up, it takes time to get people to know about it,” Mary Aitchison, one of the project leaders, told Kativik Regional Government council meetings last week.

“It was hard to get visibility in the communities.”

But Esuma completed its mandate and has now received more funding to run for another three-year period, from 2016 to 2019.

This phase of the project aims to support more community-specific initiatives, said Esuma coordinator, Elias Moukannas.

“We talk about school a lot, but it doesn’t mean [these initiatives have] to happen in the school,” Moukannas said.

“It can be in the family and in the community, to encourage the youth that these things are important.”

Indeed, the second phase’s action plan aims to focus on parents, by offering homework workshops and social activities.

Esuma phase 2 will also offer provide support to teachers and school staff.

As part of its first phase, Esuma also conducted a survey with secondary-age students in Inukjuak and Salluit, called the Nunavik Youth Aspirations Study.

Among the survey’s respondents, more than three-quarters said that school was important to them, although only about half said they liked school.

The vast majority of respondents said the main goal of attending school was to secure a good job. Most of them planned to attend college or university, with the goal of returning to work in their home communities.

KRG chairperson Jennifer Munick said that school success is a priority and a concern for her, as a mother and a leader.

“But when I hear that school is important to students, that eases some of my concern,” Munick said.

“And makes you think: what do we need to do to help them out? It all starts in the home.”

You can read more about Esuma and how to apply for project funding here.

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