|Inuit teachers key to Inuktitut curriculum
Dec. 10, 2004
teachers key to Inuktitut curriculum
Bilingual education strategy depends on teacher training program
department of education now has a plan to ensure that the
territory's schools become fully bilingual by 2020.
towards this goal over the next four years, Education Minister
Ed Picco tabled an ambitious new strategy last week at the end
of the legislature's recent sitting.
here's the catch.
strategy says there's an urgent need for large numbers of Inuit
teachers throughout Nunavut's school system. It says having
Inuktitut-language teachers is "the single most important factor
in the success of bilingual education in Nunavut."
have the best strategy in the world, but if I don't have the
capacity to deliver the strategy, it will go by the way-side,"
wants to increase the number of community-based teacher training
programs in Nunavut and also boost the Nunavut Teacher Education
Program offered at the Iqaluit campus of Nunavut Arctic College.
next few months, you'll see a bigger focus by me as minister of
education to recruiting more teachers who will teach at the
junior high school or high school levels," Picco said.
there's another challenge, too - at the same time, up to 30 per
cent of the Inuit teachers in Nunavut are due to retire in the
next five years.
do I have to recruit for the 8, 9, 10, 11 grades, but I also
have to replace the retiring teachers," Picco said.
take money, although Picco wouldn't say whether the additional
funds the strategy needs will come from his existing budget or
from other budgets. Wait until February when the new territorial
budget is tabled, was his response.
strategy gives hints that money may also be coming from other
departments in the form of language enhancement programs for
children and adults, as well as from partnerships with Nunavut
key to making bilingualism work at school, Picco said, lies in
the home, where parents and children need to speak to each other
in Inuktitut whenever possible.
recent discussions with district educational authorities across
Nunavut, Picco said he heard the same thing over and over again:
schools only have children for about five hours a day, while
families have them for the balance of the time.
have to speak Inuktitut to their children - then you can expect
there's a spill-over to the playgrounds and schools," Picco
schools are going to fulfill their role in creating a bilingual
Nunavut, they'll need curriculum and materials for students and
teachers. This will take up a good portion of the $3 million a
year that the strategy needs to get off the ground.
stands now, there is no coordinated K-12 curriculum that
combines Inuit and Qallunaat perspectives and no collection of
teaching tools that "reflect an Inuit perspective."
Picco said much of the curriculum for the lower grades already
exists in some form.
not starting from scratch - 80 per cent is already completed or
has been rolled out or is ready to be rolled out," Picco said
strategy calls for the development of programs to teach
Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun as a first or second language and
English as a first language. It promises the curriculum will
"reflect two cultures and three languages." There will also be
an "increased inclusion of Inuit culture and values" in
curriculum and schools, which will be drawn from research with
elders and other groups.
A big job
lies ahead because all grades, including kindergarten, must have
their appropriate courses and materials as well as staff who are
trained and supported to use them.
will have five models of bilingual education, each using
different combinations of "languages of instruction," to choose
Early immersion will introduce children to Inuinnaqtun
in communities such as Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay where
Inuinnaqtun language fluency has "eroded."
Qulliq will be used in communities where Inuktitut is
already strong. Students will learn to read and write
Inuktitut first and English will be gradually introduced.
Dual Language is suitable for communities like Rankin
Inlet or Iqaluit, that have many non-Inuit and a high
percentage of blended families. Students will receive
instruction in language arts and core subjects in their
first language (English, French or Inuktitut), learn another
language as a second language and receive non-core courses
in either language.
Nunavut communities will participate in pilot projects to test
out these models.
strategy also suggests some surprises may be in store, such as
new high school diploma courses, designed to reduce dropout
rates. High school diplomas could be given for non-academic
majors, Inuit heritage and culture, pre-trades, performing arts,
family and community care studies.
schools may see welcome additional money, thanks to a revised
funding formula "to provide more support for teachers." They'll
also have a new school profile, review and improvement process
called Sivuniksamut Illinniarniq.
District Education Authorities will be responsible for creating
public awareness about the new strategy - by sharing information
with families and staff so "Nunavummiut understand and provide
feedback" and by encouraging each community to develop its own
"language enhancement" program so bilingualism develops in and
outside of the classroom.