Communities in Canada’s North often lag behind the South in terms of educational outcomes, but they are leaders in developing innovative ways to improve educational programming and delivery, according to a new report from The Conference Board of Canada‘s Centre for the North.
“Geographical and social conditions in the North make learning more difficult. Often, Northern students are neither prepared nor equipped to perform well in school, due to lack of parental support and what they see as limited career opportunities,” said Anja Jeffrey, Director, Centre for the North. “But governments, industry and educators are working together to provide a better learning environment and culturally relevant curriculum.”
The study, Lessons Learned: Achieving Positive Educational Outcomes in Northern Communities, shows that these innovative approaches are having a positive impact on educational outcomes:
- A learner-centered approach incorporating technology, such as e-learning, to deliver curriculum. Sheshatshiu Innu School in Labrador combines traditional cultural activities along with technologically-enhanced learning methods. This program has helped improve Aboriginal student retention and graduation rates.
- Schools acting as community hubs. Programs like the Northern Community & School Recreation Coordinator Program in Saskatchewan allow schools to be open and accessible to everyone, while providing sport, cultural and recreation programs for the wider community. An on-site daycare in Arviat, Nunavut, helps young parents complete their high school studies. Nutrition programs in many Northern regions provide students with healthy food they may not receive otherwise.
- On the land programs. Dechinta Bush University Centre for Research and Learning and the Moose Kerr School in Aklavik, Northwest Territories, give students the opportunity to learn about indigenous governance and traditional ways of life from elders and Northern experts. The programs help engage young Aboriginals.
- Partnerships between institutions in the North and in the South. Programs previously unavailable to Northerners can be delivered in remote communities through partnerships. A Masters of Education, for example, is offered at Nunavut Arctic College in collaboration with the University of Prince Edward Island, allowing students to remain in their home communities to complete their degrees.
The report recommends further support for career preparation programs, adult learning centres, and educational bridging programs that would encourage Northern youth to pursue post-secondary education. The report also advocates better recruitment and retention strategies to attract more teachers by using signing bonuses, moving allowances, professional development funds and assistance with student loan payments.
This report is produced by The Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for the North. The Centre for the North works with Aboriginal leaders, businesses, governments, communities, educational institutions, and other organizations to provide new insights into how sustainable prosperity can be achieved in the North. The Centre will help to establish and implement strategies, policies and practices to transform that vision into reality.
Note: Registration on the Centre For The North site is required in order to read or download the full report.