The territorial government asked residents for feedback as it begins redesigning the Education Act with the aim of increasing “student education outcomes to the same level as the rest of Canada.”
The Education Act legislates how teaching is planned and carried out in the NWT, from junior kindergarten to Grade 12. It’s the backbone of an education system that has faced sustained criticism in recent years.
In 2019, Premier Caroline Cochrane – the territory’s education minister at the time – acknowledged the territory was “failing children and families.” A year later, a federal audit concluded the NWT’s education system is falling short “in every area inspected.”
The auditor general’s report expressed concern that the NWT’s education system did not adequately support Indigenous-language and cultural education, offered too little for students and teachers in smaller communities, and was not appropriately monitored as a whole.
Data from the NWT Bureau of Statistics suggests the territory had a high-school graduation rate of 67.5 in 2016, compared to a national rate of 72.6 that year. The data showed the territory’s Indigenous students were less likely to graduate than non-Indigenous students.
A discussion paper published by the GNWT sets out areas of concern the territorial government has itself identified in the current legislation.
Among them are what the GNWT characterizes as uneven access to resources across communities and unfair limitations on Indigenous governments developing their own education frameworks.
Residents with ideas to improve the Education Act can fill out a form on the GNWT website. The discussion paper and other information resources are available on the same page.
Findings will be compiled and presented toward the end of the summer, the territory said.