QUÉBEC CITY, Oct. 24, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ - In an investigation report released today, the Québec Ombudsman concludes that the Ministère de l'Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur must do more to make good on its obligations towards Kativik School Board, in Nunavik. As Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret sees it, "the Department has adopted a restrictive vision of its role. In so doing, it does not provide the school board with the support and the tools it needs to fulfil its mandate."
A few figures:
- Nearly 80% of Nunavik students leave the school system without diplomas or certification—4 times higher than elsewhere in Québec;
- The graduation rate is 25.9%, compared to 77.7% for Québec as a whole;
- More than half of Inuit have no certificate, diploma or degree, compared to 13% elsewhere in Québec.
The investigation by the Québec Ombudsman showed that several factors make it more difficult for Inuit youth all the way through school:
- Starting in Grade 4, subjects from the curriculum (mathematics, sciences, social studies, etc.) are taught exclusively in French or English, even though, up to that point, Inuktitut has been the primary language of instruction;
- The pedagogical program is not fully adapted to their culture and realities;
- Students cannot take Secondary V science and mathematics;
- Access to postsecondary education and general education in the adult sector is very limited;
- Services for students with difficulties or disabilities are very limited.
The Québec Ombudsman also saw that Kativik School Board struggles to recruit and retain teaching staff. As a result, classes close every day. In addition, there is a high rate of teacher and student absenteeism. When students miss school without reason, there is no follow up.
In the wake of the investigation, the Québec Ombudsman identified several concrete and feasible corrective measures so that Inuit receive the educational services to which they are entitled. The Québec Ombudsman feels that improvement hinges on concerted action by the Department and Kativik School Board.
In the report, the Québec Ombudsman makes 14 recommendations to the Ministère de l'Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur. One of them, which concerns services for students with difficulties or disabilities, is also intended for the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. One recommendation, aims at countering the housing shortage in Nunavik, is made to the Société d'habitation du Québec.
The Québec Ombudsman as mediator
During the investigation, the Québec Ombudsman noticed that because it stepped in, fruitful ties are already being forged between the Department and the school board. For example, the Department now funds a postsecondary program called "Nunavik Sivunitsavut" (Nunavik, our future). The program makes it possible for young Inuit to learn more about certain notions in history, politics and so forth as they pertain specifically to their territory. The credits obtained as part of the program go towards a diploma of college studies (DEC).
The Québec Ombudsman is an impartial and independent institution whose mission is to ensure that citizens' rights are upheld by government departments and agencies, health and social services network institutions, and correctional facilities. It therefore helps to improve public service quality and integrity.
> Read the investigation report
> Read the summary of the investigation report in inuktitut
> Read the press release in inuktitut
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