Teacher education review in draft form

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A review of the Nunavut Teacher Education Program (NTEP), initiated in early 2017, is now at the draft-report stage.

“The consultants have drafted a preliminary report to be reviewed by the Department of Education and Nunavut Arctic College to ensure that the program evaluation phase of this review has met the scope of work detailed in the request for proposals,” Education deputy minister Pujjuut Kusugak stated via e-mail.

Nunavut Arctic College’s first year of the Nunavut Teacher Education Program (NTEP) held in Taloyoak in 2015 included instructor Ooraima Holland delivering the Cultural Studies 100 course. The students pose with their arts and crafts. At front, from left, student Yolande Aupalutu, student Elaine Saittuq, elder Bernadette Uttaq, instructor Ooraima Holland and student Casie Totalik. At back, from left, elder David Nanook, student Lenny Panigayak, student Corrine Boisvert, elder Simon Oleekatalik, student Martha Totalik, and student Sally Takolik. Not show in the photo, Kristen Eetoolook. photo courtesy Nunavut Arctic College

Vancouver-based Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, a firm of research analysts with extensive experience in the education sector, is carrying out the review.

The closing date for request for proposal was about one month before Bill 37 – the bill to amend the Education Act to, among other changes, defer dates related to bilingual education – was tabled in March. The report was supposed to be completed by June.

“The initial timeline for the release of the report was impacted by an extended interview period,” Kusugak stated.

As noted in the request for proposals, the review needed to include site visits to Iqaluit and one community from each of the three regions, and could include, but was not limited to, a literature review, teleconferences, and key informant interviews.

Ultimately, the Nunavut education system has a 300-teacher gap to satisfy the Nunavut Education Act’s requirement for a bilingual education with an Inuit language and French or English.

There are currently 65 NTEP students across the territory, with 11 scheduled to complete their fourth and final year.

“The Nunavut Teacher Education Program review will provide recommendations on how to improve the program, with specific focus on both increasing the number of graduates and providing them with the knowledge and skills to teach proficiently in Inuktut,” said Kusugak.

Premier Paul Quassa, then the education minister, told the legislative assembly last March, “We want to see more students in this program. We are using this review to identify these challenges. This review will identify them, as well as the direction we ought to take.”

Quassa was replying to South Baffin MLA David Joanasie, who frequently acted as an education critic in the previous assembly. Joanasie is now Quassa’s education minister.

Joanasie noted at the time that he had tabled a report of an extensive investigation into the teacher education program by former NTEP students Rebecca Jones, Jennifer Kadjuk, Karen Inootik, and education researcher Paul Berger, called A Hunger to Teach.

They surveyed 128 youth attending high schools across the territory – in Iqaluit, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Coral Harbour, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Clyde River, Naujaat, Taloyoak and Kugaaruk – focusing on recruitment, barriers, and awareness of teacher training in Nunavut.

The government’s review touches on many of the points raised by that report, and has an extensive list of 17 requirements, including evaluating recruitment, student success and support, production of bilingual graduates with knowledge of Inuit societal values and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, structure and quality of the program, among many others.

Jones ultimately quit the NTEP program. As a young mother with three children, she found the program inflexible. While experiencing personal hardship, she temporarily dropped down to a part-time course load, which led to her losing her assigned student housing.

“At least at a southern institution there’s wiggle room. You can have the option of a night class or make-up exams. They don’t have any of that at Arctic College,” she told Nunavut News in April.

Jones also made the point that her situation is not unique, as many young women have children.

“That’s the reality. Until they fix that (the housing crisis) or have more flexibility for their program, because the majority of students are parents…”

A Hunger to Teach recommended expanding NTEP to more communities, increasing financial support and developing different models of delivery to get teachers in the classroom.

Importantly, the government’s review includes addressing all of these issues.

Also of note, high school students indicated they would be interested in teaching in higher grades, which NTEP does not address, as the current program produces primary teachers.

The scope of the government’s review includes a variety of requests for recommendations to refocus the program, develop an implementation strategy, and develop a cost estimate.

“Once this preliminary report is complete, the next phase of the review will be for the consultants to facilitate the development of an implementation strategy for the revision of the program in accordance with the report and recommendations,” Kusugak stated.

“The final report, which will include the implementation strategy, will be released once it is complete.”

 

FACT FILE

Nunavut Teacher Education Program now

 

Year    Community     Number of Students

(as of January 26, 2018)

1st Year           Iqaluit              8

1st Year           Rankin Inlet   7

2nd Year         Iqaluit              7

2nd Year         Kugaaruk        8

2nd/3rd Year   Iqaluit           2

3rd Year          Clyde River    6

3rd Year          Pond Inlet      6

3rd Year          Sanikiluaq      6

3rd Year          Iqaluit             3

4th Year          Taloyoak         5

4th Year          Iqaluit             6

TOTAL                                   65

source: Department of Education