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PASS way to success for those seeking high school diplomas

There's more than one way to pass the courses needed to get a Grade 12 diploma.

Jolene Otokiak

The Pathway to Adult Secondary School (PASS) program is picking up steam, with 62 participants in 14 communities in fall 2017, compared to 26 students in seven communities when the program was launched in 2013-14.

There have been 57 successful course completions since the winter of 2015, according to the Department of Education.

PASS, a joint initiative between the Department of Education and Nunavut Arctic College, allows students to earn credits in the courses they need to advance to post-secondary learning. Participants can learn online on their own time and can get assistance from instructors at Nunavut Arctic College.

Most PASS students "are motivated to earn their high school diploma in order to gain access to better jobs and a better quality of life," according to the Department of Education.

Jolene Otokiak, an Iqaluit resident, was involved with PASS in 2015 and 2016. She noticed the program online while searching for education options. Needing to pass two English courses to become a high school graduate, she enrolled. She was able to work online from home or go into the Community Learning Centre for one-on-one assistance from the instructor when she needed it.

Janice Komak

She held down a job while completing those two courses.

"It was pretty easy," she said. "My co-workers wanted me to finish high school."

Otokiak, 28, said she has since recommended PASS to several people based on her positive experience.

Cambridge Bay's Janice Komak entered the PASS program in spring 2016. She was registered in a science course as of early 2018 and needed three more credits to earn her high school diploma. She was balancing the course among part-time work and the Inspire Nunavut business training program that was running Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

She said she devoted about 10 to 12 hours per week to her PASS science course. She found English to be the most challenging area of study, she added.

"(Help) is always available, I can call, email or stop by the office if I need to," Komak said. "Education is very important to get a job you want."