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Department of Education adding 42 student support assistants for $4 million

David Joanasie
Education Minister David Joanasie is aiming to have his department's 10-year recruitment and retention strategy in place for the 2021-22 school year. Trevor Wright/NNSL photo

There will be an additional 42 student support assistant positions to fill for the 2021-22 school year as the Department of Education has approval to spend $4 million to create the jobs.

It's the first step in a three-year initiative for the department to ensure the student-educator ratio remains on target.

The Nunavut Education Act compels the minister to keep the territory's ratio lower than the most recently published national student-educator ratio, which is 13.8.

The territory's existing ratio is 13.4 students to one educator, according to the Department of Education. The community with the highest ratio is Iglulik at 13.7 to 1 while the lowest is Grise Fiord at 5.4 to 1.

MLAs were complimentary of the endeavour.

“I guess I would like to first begin with saying how excellent it is to see an additional investment being placed in our education system, and I really look forward to seeing some improvements as they gradually roll out over the years,” said Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone.

Pat Angnakak, chair of the Standing Committee on Social Wellness, noted that the department will need to improve its recruitment efforts to achieve its goal. There have been dozens of teaching vacancies as the school year has started for the past several years.

“Members (of the legislative assembly) encourage the minister and his officials to increase their efforts to attract more Nunavummiut to the teaching professions with an emphasis on recruiting high school graduates to pursue careers in education,” said Angnakak, adding that additional language specialists will need to be trained and hired to meet the department's legislated timelines for bilingual education.

Education Minister David Joanasie referred to his department's 10-year recruitment strategy, which he hopes to have finalized in 2021-22.

"This 10-year recruitment and retention strategy, the intention is to have short-, medium- and long-term targets or objectives on getting to where we need to be on our teaching capacity," Joanasie said.