Early Childhood to Grade 12 Education in the Northwest Territories—Department of Education, Culture and Employment’s efforts to renew the education system and improve outcomes for students fall short of meeting obligations
Early Childhood to Grade 12 Education in the Northwest Territories—Department of Education, Culture and EmploymentDepartment of Education, Culture and Employment’s efforts to renew the education system and improve outcomes for students fall short of meeting obligations
Yellowknife, 6 February 2020—A report from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada tabled today in the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly concludes that the Department of Education, Culture and Employment’s actions to plan, support, and monitor the delivery of equitable, inclusive education programs and services that reflect Indigenous languages and cultures have fallen short of fully meeting the department’s obligations, including ones set out in its ambitious plans to renew the education system. In addition, the department did not know whether its efforts were improving student outcomes.
“We found shortfalls in the department’s actions in every area of the education system that we audited”, said Mr. Glenn Wheeler, Audit Principal, speaking in Yellowknife on behalf of the Auditor General. For example, the department’s progress to support Indigenous and culture-based education has been slow. It did not assess how many instructors were needed or for which languages, and it did not monitor whether students were becoming more proficient in their Indigenous languages. “The need for swift action in this area is increasingly critical because knowledge of Indigenous languages is declining”, added Mr. Wheeler.
The department introduced some initiatives to improve access to education across communities in the Northwest Territories, such as Junior Kindergarten and Northern Distance Learning. However, it failed to address other commitments, such as improving support to teachers in multi-grade classrooms, and it failed to monitor inclusive schooling to know whether students received the support they needed to participate in the regular education program.
Problems in the way the department collected and analyzed data prevent it from having a clear picture of the education system or of the impact the department’s actions are having. For example, the audit found that the department’s analysis overestimated high school graduation rates.
“We are deeply concerned by our findings, given the importance of education for children”, concluded Mr. Wheeler. “The department must take steps and work with regional education bodies and other partners to ensure that the education system improves student outcomes, including closing the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students as well as between students in smaller communities and students in larger centres.”
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The report “Early Childhood to Grade 12 Education in the Northwest Territories—Department of Education, Culture and Employment” is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.
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