Nunavut Teachers’ Association calls out Dept. of Education, urges public to hold government accountable

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The organization that represents kindergarten to Grade 12 educators in Nunavut’s public education system is “very disappointed” and feels the Department of Education has “lied” to them, according to a news release issued Wednesday.

Read: EXCLUSIVE: Leaked NTEP review concludes existing program doomed to fail

The department has repeatedly rejected the Nunavut Teachers’ Association’s (NTA) proposals to recruit potential Inuit teachers into the Nunavut Teacher Education Program (NTEP), according to the NTA release.

This follows a June 17 story about the October 2017 NTEP review commissioned by the department and leaked to Nunavut News.

Nunavut Teachers’ Association president John Fanjoy told Nunavut News the association has presented proposals to the Department of Education to recruit Inuit for the Nunavut Teacher Education Program through schools and communities, but those proposals have been repeatedly rejected.
Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

“The NTA, along with other stakeholders, have been inquiring about the status of the NTEP review since November 2017. The consistent response from the bureaucratic leadership at the Department of Education headquarters, throughout many changes in senior personnel, has been that the NTEP review is still ongoing,” stated president John Fanjoy in the news release.

“During the consultation process for proposed Education Act amendments in October 2018, the NTA made inquiries during our submission on the status of the NTEP review. Department officials stated to us that the NTEP review was ongoing and not completed. This was a complete falsehood, which has been perpetuated under the current department leadership.”

After publication of the Nunavut News story regarding the NTEP review and one week after receiving our questions, the department finally replied.

In an email from the department’s manager of communications Jean Philippe Laprise, with comments attributed to outgoing deputy minister Louise Flaherty, the department explains a memorandum of understanding with new NTEP partner Memorial University will now inform the revision of the program, and the partners, including Nunavut Arctic College, will develop an action plan.

Premier Joe Savikataaq accepted Flaherty’s resignation, effective June 28, Savikataaq told Nunavut News.

The University of Regina was previously the southern NTEP partner.

“Over the period of the (NTEP) review, a tremendous opportunity presented itself to merge this project with the (Memorial) university partnership project that was ongoing, in order to use the expertise of the university partner to help in the development of the action plan,” the department’s June 18 email states.

“The inclusion of an action plan in a final report was seen as a critical component that could help to ensure that there was a plan for moving forward.”

Work is underway, the department states, and the NTEP review by Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group is not the final report that was intended to be tabled.

Work with Memorial has extended the timeline, according to the department.

The memorandum of understanding with Memorial was announced May 31 by Nunavut Arctic College.

The final NTEP review report will be tabled at the legislative assembly in October, with an action plan to follow once completed, states the department, though it’s unclear how the report to be tabled will differ from the draft report published by Nunavut News. That report includes many recommendations.

Read: 2017 Review of Nunavut Teacher Education Program (NTEP)

But the teachers’ association also says it has tried, on numerous occasions, to assist with various aspects of the NTEP program.

The Nunavut Teachers’ Association says it had a representative take part in a committee tasked with designing a middle-years component of the Nunavut Teacher Education Program, which for many years has only trained teachers for the primary grades. “This program was designed and had student applications, but it was never launched,” the association states.
Michele Letourneau/NNSL photo.

“We had a representative take part in a committee tasked with designing a middle-years component of the NTEP program. This program was designed and had student applications, but it was never launched,” the association states.

The current program is designed to train teachers for the primary grades.

Further, the association explains it has an advanced proposal for a staff position, paid for by its own professional development (PD) fund.

“This new hire would focus on recruitment of Inuit into the NTEP program, and support recent NTEP graduates as they work through their probationary period as teachers,” stated the association.

“Officials at the Department of Education refused to agree to such a position being funded out of the NTA PD fund. This has been proposed more than once, including to the current leadership at department headquarters. This plan has always been turned down.”

Fanjoy told Nunavut News that the department informed the association that a recruitment plan was already in place. The association’s proposal would directly link to schools and communities, he said.

The Department of Education, in its response to the Auditor General of Canada’s June report on Support for High School Students and Adult Learners, stated it’s developing a 10-year teacher retention and recruitment strategy in the 2019–20 fiscal year.

Bill 25, An Act to Amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act, is also scheduled to be addressed in October at the legislative assembly. That bill seeks to extend the deadline for Inuktut and English or French bilingual education to Grade 12 to 2039.

The association concludes its news release by urging the public to hold the government accountable for Bill 25.

Read: Nunavut Teachers’ Association June 19 news release