Canada Q1 Education Update

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Canada Q1 Education Update

The key developments in Canada's education system in the first quarter of 2019 are the introduction of the "Education that Works for You" plan, implementation of a new approach to on-reserve school funding, changes made to elementary schools, kindergartens and universities, support for students with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), changes made to middle schools and high schools and halting the hiring process.

We extracted the relevant information by utilizing the Government of Canada educational websites, trusted Canadian media publications such as CBC, CTV News, Vancourier and press releases by the Ministry of Dducation and we were able to determine required key developments in Canada's education system since they were some of the top trends discussed in Canadian media also.

"EDUCATION THAT WORKS FOR YOU" PLan

In March 2019, the Ontario government introduced a new curriculum called "Education that Works for You" that will modernize classrooms and emphasize maths and STEM education. Under the new curriculum, the government will provide facilities like broadband to all classrooms, and implement new policies that restrict the use of cellphones during class to educational purposes. The plan will also implement an improved math curriculum focused on fundamentals for every grade and new STEM, skilled trades and financial literacy classes. Besides this, the curriculum also seeks to implement a modernized, age-appropriate Health and Physical Education curriculum.

This is a key development because this curriculum was developed as the result of the largest public consultation on education organized by Ontario. More than 72,000 individuals including parents and teachers participated in this consultation.

NEW APPROACH TO ON-RESERVE SCHOOL FUNDING

In January 2019, the Canadian government altered the allocation of the annual funding of $2 billion by Ottawa to the First Nations education system. Under the new system, Ottawa is required to provide similar support to on-reserve students as compared to the provincial school students. In April 2019, the government will create new revenue sources for the First Nations elementary and secondary schools, allowing them to offer full kindergarten for on-reserve kids aged four and five. The government will also provide $1,500 per student per year to support the language and cultural programs in the First Nation schools.

This is a key development as this plan is the result of an extensive, two year planing process which involved contributions from various independent organizations, including the Assembly of First Nations.

changes to elementary schools, kindergartens and universities

In January 2019, the Ontario government announced its plans to remove the class-size limits for grades one to three and discontinue the full-day kindergarten service. Besides this, the government also announced plans to reduce tuition by 10 percent, removing a free-tuition program for low-income students and make student union fees optional. The plan also seeks to remove the office of the province’s Child Advocate that oversees students under the foster care system.

Charles Pascal, an education expert, considers this is a key development because the full-day kindergarten service, which costs about $1.5 billion a year, is an important foundation for childcare and education provided the Canadian government.

SUPPORT for STUDENTS WITH Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

In March 2019, the Ministry of Education announced its plans to provide support and improve programs for students with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Under the plan, the goverment will fully subsidize an ASD-specific qualification course for educators, provide online training through the Geneva Centre for Autism, fund after-school skills development programs, and provide $12,300 in funding to the students. The plan will also provide support for students to transition from therapy to regular school.

This is a key development because the goverment plans to provide about $15.2 million in funding to support school boards to support students with ASD. Besides this, the Geneva Center plans to train 2,200 educators under this program.

Changes to middle schools and high schools

In March 2019, the Progressive Conservative government in Canada announced its plans to increase the average high school class size from 22 to 28 and introduce a new sex education curriculum that will teach about gender identity in Grade 8. The average size of class for Grade 4 to Grade 8 will increase to 24 students. Besides this, the government also plans on making it mandatory for students to take a minimum of four credits out of 30 through online courses to receive their high school diploma.

According to Kathleen Wynne, Ontario's former Liberal premier, this is a key development as these changes will lead to a $250 million cut in funding to the education system. These changes will also lead to the loss of jobs for over 3,600 secondary school teachers in the next four years.

halting the hiring process

In March 2019, the provincial government encouraged the Ontario school boards to halt their hiring process and defer the annual processes of filling retirement vacancies until the upcoming budget is announced. The government will also renegotiate the terms of its collective bargaining agreement with the elementary school teachers' union. This plan has been implemented to cover the $13.5-billion deficit of the Ontario school system.

Education Minister Lisa Thompson considers this is a key development because this plan will create a dearth in critical education positions for the new school year, forcing educators to severely budget their resources.
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Quotes
  • "In January and February, we consulted with our partners and I look forward to continuing to work with them on this bold and transformative plan for Ontario's education system. Over the next few years, we will shift our focus towards helping our students build resiliency, as well as other relevant skills to create the best education system Ontario has ever seen"
Quotes
  • "This is about communities taking greater control of their education to make sure that it's specific to their community, that it's specific to their cultures and traditions and to their language"
Quotes
  • "I can assure you one thing, any decision that’s made is going to be better, it’s not going to be worse. As far as I’m concerned, there’s a lot of areas of education that are broken that need to be fixed."
Quotes
  • "Larger classes mean less support for individual students and will disproportionately impact students with special needs,"
  • "What is clear is that students, who are the ones on the receiving end of these cuts, will be worse off"
Quotes
  • "I am writing to you today to recommend that school boards exercise prudence in making hiring decisions in light of the upcoming Ontario budget and the recent consultation on class size and hiring practices"
  • "School boards are advised to defer the annual processes of filling vacancies for retirements and other leaves related to teachers and other staff until the minister of education provides an update to the sector on or before March 15th"