Listening to his constituents, as well as the local radio in Iglulik, Aggu MLA Paul Quassa heard the disturbing news that students were asked not to attend school due to a teacher shortage.

Aggu MLA Paul Quassa is pained to hear students can’t attend class in Iglulik due to a teacher shortage.
photo courtesy Nunavut Legislative Assembly

He said it was quite painful to hear, and he specified this was usually from Grade 6 upwards.

“This is what residents are hearing nowadays, and I believe this occurs not just in our community or alternatively, it could be due to being over-stressed that the teachers have to be sent out of our community. The grades no longer hold classes when the teachers leave,” said Quassa in the legislative assembly.

He asked Minister of Education David Joanasie about the current status.

Joanasie replied the teacher shortage is not just occurring in Nunavut, but nationally and globally, as well.

“Further, the teachers as well have personal issues that perhaps lead them to suddenly resign. Nonetheless, we try our utmost to retain teachers, especially to continue teaching those grades. Perhaps we can combine two grades, such as Grades 5 and 6, into one classroom or alternatively, other school staff or principals who act as substitute teachers, or even use learning coaches to temporarily act as teachers. We try to resolve the challenges we face,” said Joanasie.

The minister also noted the shortage at the beginning of the 2018 school year, and his department doesn’t want to face that again in the fall of  2019.

“Throughout the entire year, we are actively recruiting teachers to ensure we have replacements if any schools face a shortage in our regions or communities,” he said, adding the Nunavut Teacher Education Program currently has 85 students with an anticipated 21 graduates this spring.

“Further, we have already sent out invitations to the graduates encouraging them to apply for the Department of Education’s teaching positions, to submit their resumes,” said Joanasie.

Joanasie also sent out the message to Nunavut residents that education is an extremely important priority.

“If they are capable of speaking in Inuktitut, and in light of the students who will be graduating high school with Grade 12 along with students from the Nunavut Arctic College, please provide proper services, as we want to see that and please submit your names to our department,” he said.

Quassa said he hopes the review of the Education Act will include resolutions towards fixing the teacher shortage.

The first reading of Bill 25, An Act to Amend the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act is scheduled for June 4.

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