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NWT student absenteeism ‘daunting’ as attendance stagnates

Yellowknife, NWT – Student absenteeism in the Northwest Territories remains ‘daunting’ according to one MLA as new figures for the territory are published.

School attendance rates in Yellowknife fell slightly from 88.9% to 88.4% in 2013, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment revealed in data published last Friday (PDF link).

In some Northwest Territories communities, that number falls well below 80%.

“The results confirm that far too many NWT children and youth are falling short of their potential and falling behind other Canadian students,” said the department in a statement.

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“Students in small communities are at greatest risk of lagging behind.

“The results underscore that meaningful and sustainable change is required in the NWT.”

Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny told Moose FM: “The overall message is still a bit daunting. We’ve got to do something different, we can’t continue on this path.

“By the time the average NWT student reaches grade 10, they’ve already missed 2 years of education. That blows my mind. How do we expect these students to be at any academic level if we can’t get them into school?”

The GNWT’s Education Renewal and Innovation initiative, launched in 2013, promises a 10-year plan to comprehensively review education in the Northwest Territories.

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While supporting that process, and work to establish junior kindergarten in the area, Dolynny wants educators to look farther afield for answers.


“We’ve got to look globally,” said Dolynny. “What other jurisdictions around the world face the same problems? What did they learn in places like Australia, for example? We’ve got to look beyond our borders for best practices.

“Initiatives such as junior kindergarten, as polarizing as that topic has been, bode well to early childhood development. The funding model has been the most politicized issue but the fundamental concept of junior kindergarten is sound.

“I think we’ve got some good-quality teachers and programs out there, but we have a lot of students falling through the cracks.

“Let’s face it, we’re dealing with foetal alcohol syndrome here in a lot of cases. These are determinants we don’t like to talk about but we’ve got to put them in the bigger picture.”

CJCD Moose FM News

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