Jackson Lafferty - Education Renewal Framework

October 31, 2013
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

(October 31, 2013) - Mr. Speaker, educational change, without question, is one of the most critical initiatives we must enact in the NWT.  The Education Renewal and Innovation initiative has been underway for approximately a year, and we are seeing some exciting directions emerge for true foundational change.

This work will create a different way of teaching our youth.  It will involve partnerships, improved relationships between communities and schools, and a focus on helping our children develop a strong sense of identity. It will support our educators and life-long learners to renew authentic learning experiences inside and outside the classroom, and develop effective assessment tools that measure this learning.

This kind of change in education is happening around the world. We are directly involved in many of the key areas of educational change that Alberta is undertaking. We have reviewed NWT student achievement data; benefitted from international, national and northern research; and thoroughly engaged with Aboriginal governments, education authorities and councils, and superintendents.  We also held sessions with non-governmental organizations, teachers, students, and other GNWT departments.

Mr. Speaker, later today I will be tabling the product of all the research and engagement that has been undertaken over the past year. The Education Renewal and Innovation Framework: Directions for Change document has a 10-year horizon and will be supported by a multi-year action plan detailing the direction, actions and timelines, along with costing.  ECE will now develop an evaluation framework supporting the renewal work and setting clear targets.

Mr. Speaker, we have not been elected to maintain the status quo. There are inequities in our system. Students in small communities need to have access to quality education as much as those in our larger centres. We are committed to addressing this challenge. Whether students are in Colville Lake, Yellowknife, Inuvik or Jean Marie River, we will develop programming and ways to deliver that programming that allows their teachers to open up a world of learning that leaves them hungry for more.

There are challenges that go beyond the classroom and the school walls that we must address as we develop our initiatives: poverty, addictions, lack of hope, the legacy of residential schools, and attendance.  There are other challenges that need to be met primarily through school programming and policies themselves:  authentic learning; staff recruitment, training and retention; and training and transitions to jobs.  We are already addressing many of these as we renew the education system that will prepare our children for a more prosperous and healthy future. The Framework I am tabling later today suggests initiatives and hopeful directions that, if brought to life, will address these challenges.

On July 12, 2013, a speech was delivered to the United Nations by a young Pakistani girl that had been shot by the Taliban for being outspoken about education.  Malala Yousafzai (you-saff-zay) delivered a message critical to the principles of education, and one that we are visualizing for the future of our territory.  She said, “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”

Mr. Speaker, we must have the collective courage to move forward towards that change.

Masi, Mr. Speaker.