Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 17, 2017 - 1:10 pm

Nunavut ADM talks literacy, language as kids head back to class

Students back to class in the west, heading back soon in the east

BETH BROWN
Grade 8 and 9 students from Kugluktuk High School hold up one finger to show the first week back to class for the new school year.
Grade 8 and 9 students from Kugluktuk High School hold up one finger to show the first week back to class for the new school year. "Others are holding up two because…well, because I suggested a one!" vice principal Jonathon Lee said. The students posed for this photo at the end of their English Language Arts class, having just finished some independent reading time. (PHOTO COURTESY JONATHON LEE/KHS)
Staff at Netsilik Ilihakvik enjoy a Friday outing together, Aug. 11, soon after returning from summer holidays. “We went out for a ‘bonding’ I.Q. afternoon of fishing, chatting, making heather tea and bannock making over heather fire,” said principal Gina Pizzo. “It was a gorgeous day and everyone enjoyed the day.” (PHOTO COURTESY GINA PIZZO)
Staff at Netsilik Ilihakvik enjoy a Friday outing together, Aug. 11, soon after returning from summer holidays. “We went out for a ‘bonding’ I.Q. afternoon of fishing, chatting, making heather tea and bannock making over heather fire,” said principal Gina Pizzo. “It was a gorgeous day and everyone enjoyed the day.” (PHOTO COURTESY GINA PIZZO)
The best part of the school day: A recent recess break at Netsilik School in Taloyoak. (PHOTO COURTESY GINA PIZZO)
The best part of the school day: A recent recess break at Netsilik School in Taloyoak. (PHOTO COURTESY GINA PIZZO)

(Corrected Aug. 21, 9:50 a.m.)

Students will return to school in Nunavut this month, as the Department of Education plans to make literacy one of its top goals for the coming academic year.

“It’s the linchpin for the whole system,” John MacDonald, assistant deputy minister for the GN’s Department of Education, told Nunatsiaq News Aug 16.
“On the academic front within our schools, literacy is something that we see as the key to unlocking student success across all subject areas, as well as supporting better attendance and engagement within schools,” MacDonald said. 

To that end, the GN will launch an official literacy framework, during a gathering of principals and school learning coaches in September. The framework is an attempt to streamline existing efforts being made by individual schools to advance student literacy.

And, that framework will have to foster all official languages in the territory, MacDonald said, especially Inuktut, because “that’s the first language of the majority of our students.”

A review of the Nunavut Teacher Education Program, which is to be released this fall in partnership with Nunavut Arctic College, will leave the education department in a better position to increase access to Inuktut language instruction, he said. 

“That [report] is going to be a key driver in changes we make in supporting Inuit employment targets for our department and increasing the number of bilingual educators in our school system,” MacDonald said.

Efforts to develop Inuktut curriculum will also continue, he said.

The Kitikmeot region’s students are already back to class, with students in the Kivalliq region starting back to school this week and early next week, followed by students in the Qikiqtani region.

As far as staffing, all but one principal’s position has been filled, with a vacant position in the Kitikmeot region.

The Department of Education has 796 positions across the territory, broken down as follows: 672.5 principals, teachers and student support teachers, 44 literacy coaches, and 79.5 language specialists.

Right now, 48 positions are vacant, 43 of which are in the Qikiqtani region, the department said

MacDonald also took a moment to talk about work being done in Kugaaruk, where classes are to start later than usual after a Feb. 28 fire destroyed the community’s only school.

He said that, while it’s not ideal, the school is looking at delivering classes on a spilt-shift schedule, as was done after the school in Cape Dorset burned down in 2015.

This means younger students would attend classes in the morning and more senior grades would attend school in the afternoon. 

For now, academic focus in Kugaaruk will be on core subjects required for graduation. But efforts will be made to promote physical activity and to make space, and time, for non-core classes such as cultural programming, music, and shop class.

Until then, “it will be bare bones, to be honest,” said MacDonald. 

He added that, following the fire, the hamlet of Kugaaruk has been “nothing short of amazing” in its support of student education in the community, by arranging space for classes to take place.

An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information on the total number of teaching positions in Nunavut.

  Nunavut Territorial School Calendar 2017-2018 by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

Students gather in the gym of Inuujaq School in Arctic Bay to celebrate the start of the school year Aug. 14 with a breakfast feast with parents, community members and the RCMP. (PHOTO COURTESY ABDUS SALAM)
Students gather in the gym of Inuujaq School in Arctic Bay to celebrate the start of the school year Aug. 14 with a breakfast feast with parents, community members and the RCMP. (PHOTO COURTESY ABDUS SALAM)
Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share

 THIS WEEK’S ADS

 ADVERTISING