Celebrate life-long learning
The activities taking place this Education Week give us the chance to celebrate something that is often taken for granted - the rich and diverse learning environment that is offered to Yukon students all year round. This is a great time to thank our teaching professionals, families, First Nations, schools, school councils and communities for their contributions and support.
As a product of the territory’s education system myself, I have fond memories of the opportunities I was afforded in Yukon schools, including outdoor education and student exchanges. Experiential hands-on learning options have grown and diversified through the years and, together with a strong classroom environment, they give students a well-rounded education that helps them build successful, exciting careers and lives.
Partnerships have allowed us to provide more for students than might otherwise have been possible. A number of initiatives have been accomplished through working together with Yukon First Nations governments and people. These include language programs (in 21 Yukon schools, for seven of eight Yukon First Nation language groups) and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Southern Tutchone Bi-Cultural Program, which increases Southern Tutchone content for Kindergarten to Grade 2 students at St. Elias Community School.
We also signed an MOU with the Council of Yukon First Nations and Canada to create a joint Education Action Plan to promote the success of First Nation learners. And, a recent development is that Yukon First Nations social studies will become a requirement for all Grade 5 classes, beginning next fall. Yukon’s Education Act supports the incorporation of up to 20 per cent locally-developed courses and states every school shall include activities relevant to Yukon First Nation culture, heritage, traditions and practices.
This year’s Education Week theme is Every Student Every Day, chosen as a reminder of the importance of lifelong learning. A thirst for knowledge is an element of a satisfying life and so we work to support everyone in pursuing their goals and interests. For example, Yukon Education was pleased to launch a new website yesterday (http://yukonworkfutures.gov.yk.ca/), which will help Yukoners research careers and look for jobs. It provides a guide to career opportunities based on current and projected economic needs, profiles the most in-demand occupations in Yukon and offers details about necessary training.
Government, educators, parents and students always have an interest in improving student success and enhancing the education system we have built together. With that in mind, the Yukon Legislative Assembly recently passed amendments to the Education Act, which will ensure that students have access to more instructional time and teachers receive more professional development opportunities.
As a final note, I would remind Yukoners of our partnership with Victoria Gold Yukon Student Encouragement Society on the Every Student, Every Day initiative to improve student attendance in Yukon schools. The first projects to receive funds will be announced at a reception at MacBride Museum this evening, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
I encourage all members of the public to attend the reception to help us celebrate, and to join us at some of the approximately 40 different Education Week activities scheduled throughout Yukon this week, hosted by many organizations with an interest in education including schools, Yukon College, First Nations, the Commission Scolaire Francophone du Yukon and non-government organizations.
Minister of Education