Education better served if all work together

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Depending who you believe about the recent leaked report on the Nunavut Teacher’s Education Program (NTEP), there are more than enough concerns to go around.

Let’s be honest, it’s a little hard to swallow the Government of Nunavut’s (GN) response that it always meant to release the report which, apparently, was completed in October of 2017.

And, as most everyone knows by now, the report was quite critical of the NTEP saying that, left as it is in its current state, it is unable to meet the needs for this territory to offer students a bilingual education.

Looking back at GN Education Minister David Joanasie’s comments in responding to accusations from the Nunavut Teacher’s Association that the GN lied about the report being completed, I think many would agree that something being completed two years ago and only out now because it was leaked was, indeed, secretly squirreled away by the government.

But, hey, it also shows that in a mere 20 years the GN has learned to be just as secretive and misleading as every other government.

So, OK, the GN gets a slap on the wrist for not being completely transparent about the study (I’ve been here for 21 years and still giggle over the claims two-decades ago that the GN would be a totally open and transparent operation), but, whether you buy into Joanasie’s remarks about the GN always meant to release the report, he does get check marks in the positive column for insisting the consultant report is but one piece in the education puzzle.

And, we’ll just have to wait and see what the GN comes up with when its 10-year recruitment and retention strategy for teachers is released for public consumption.

One area of the report I hope the GN does not jump into with both feet is the suggestion to lower high school requirements for the NTEP and to use language proficiency as a means of setting the recruitment bar.

While this approach always looks more-than-a-little attractive because it’s a short path to getting the numbers you want everyone to see, it is also known by a not-so-flattering title of dumbing down the process.

And, believe me, I’ve known a good number of people during my lifetime who spoke very fine English, but I wouldn’t want them teaching my kids anything loftier than a major in comic book reading in the classroom.

It was a misstep by the GN to quietly sit on this report and if, in fact, it did lie to the Nunavut Teacher’s Association about its completion, then it did so knowing it would be wearing a little egg on its face upon the report’s eventual release.

But, except for the two stairs below open and accountable the GN opted for in all this controversy, I did like a lot of what Joanasie had to say.

In fact, I think the GN has suffered so much over the topics of bilingual education, the lack of Inuktitut-speaking candidates for NTEP, and the shortage of teachers in Nunavut in general, that it just might be bound and determined to get it right this time.

One thing is for sure as we move forward, we stand to make little progress if the relationship between the GN’s Department of Education and the Nunavut Teacher’s Association remains adversarial in nature.

And you can take that to the bank in any language.