Twelve 13-year-old children from the Akulivik community have not been able to go to school since September because no teacher is offering classes for 7e year at school in this village of 700 Nunavik residents.
“We also lack teachers in other sectors, but I would say that it is in 7e year that the situation is most urgent […] For these children, it will be difficult to make up for the year. The risk of failure is great,” notes the vice-principal of the Tukisiniarvik school in Akulivik, Fabrice Van Houtte. The latter explains that nine positions are vacant out of a total of 22 in his establishment. “We make a lot of effort at the Kativik School Board to recruit. But the needs are immense,” he says.
In addition to the 7e year, which cannot offer classes in either English or French, other sectors are affected by a shortage of teachers in Akulivik. Secondary 3, 4 and 5 students have been without a math, science and arts teacher since September. In secondary one and two, there has been no teacher for English, social studies, science, arts, Inuktitut and culture since the end of November.
In a January 6 posting on its Facebook page, Tukisiniarvik School said that for English Secondary 1 and 2 students, there is “no school until further notice.”
“Many parents call us to find out when their child will have a teacher,” says Mr. Van Houtte.
Doctor on the Hudson’s Bay Coast, La DD Marie-Faye Galarneau was present last week in Akulivik. And she was disturbed to find that some of her young patients had not been to school since September. “Children out of school for six months, I’ve never seen that. It is very worrying. This is a huge task for parents. In an already fragile community,” she says.
All affected area
The teacher shortage affects all of Quebec. But in Nunavik, the situation is even more glaring. In all, 41 full-time positions and 31 part-time positions are currently vacant.
“We have difficulty recruiting in the South. But in the North, when you add the problems of access to water, internet and housing, it takes away the taste of going there, ”notes the director of the teacher sector at the Association of Northern Employees Quebecois (AENQ-CSQ), Daniel Charest. In the meantime, Nunavik must turn to hiring unqualified teachers. More than half of the positions in Nunavik are currently occupied by this type of candidate, according to data obtained from the Kativik school board by Mr. Charest.
It should be more than a yellow light going on in government. We don’t talk enough about this situation. There must be a real echo among our politicians. It is a major problem. It has a significant impact on the lives of young people and their future.
Daniel Charest, Director of the Teacher Sector at the Association of Northern Quebec Employees
The Education Act provides for an “educational obligation” for young people aged 16 and under in Quebec. “The responsibility for ensuring that children fulfill their obligation to attend school is shared between the parents of the children on the one hand and, on the other hand, the management of the schools concerned and the respective school service centres, since these The latter are the first responsible for ensuring that students attend school,” explains the Ministry of Education. Psychologist and professor at the Faculty of Educational Sciences at Laval University, Égide Royer believes that, “according to his understanding, the State has an obligation to provide an educational service to young Quebecers”.
To fulfill its schooling obligation, the education network sometimes finances the transport of schoolchildren to another city if their local school closes. But this option would be rather difficult to realize in Akulivik, a village impossible to reach by road and located 125 km from the nearest neighbor, Puvirnituq. It is also impossible to offer distance learning courses in Akulivik: the internet is not yet reliable enough.
The Kativik School Board did not respond to questions from The Press. At the Ministry of Education, it is indicated that a “committee on staff recruitment and retention is in place to try to find solutions”. The Department’s spokesperson, Bryan St-Louis, indicated that in the past year, an agreement in principle was also reached with the union representing Nunavik teachers and provides, in particular, for attraction and retention measures.
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Shortage of teachers in Nunavik | Children deprived of school since September
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