To this end, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on February 23, 2012 that the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), is investing $27 million over five years to expand adult basic education in the territories, fulfilling a 2011 Speech from the Throne commitment to increase education and employment levels in the North. This targeted support seeks to expand the immediate capacity in the territories to respond to the needs of working Northerners, and leave a legacy of increased capacity for the longer term.
The new Northern Adult Basic Education Program (NABEP) helps address the unique challenges faced by Northerners, especially in remote communities. A significant number of Northerners are unable to participate in the expanding labour market or take part in job-specific training due to a lack of basic education skills. Skills deficits are most pronounced among Aboriginal Northerners and those living in small or remote communities.
The NABEP will improve access to basic skills upgrades, including improved literacy and numeracy, so working age adults are better positioned to participate in the labour market. This program will ensure that more Northerners can benefit from local employment opportunities by helping prepare them to either enter the workforce directly, or take vocational training.
Programming will be delivered through the territorial colleges: Aurora College, Yukon College and Nunavut Arctic College. The colleges, which already offer a spectrum of courses across many remote northern communities, will use the federal investments to improve their adult basic education (ABE) services and to leverage investments made under other federal programs. Colleges can use the funding to build capacity by hiring and training more instructors, improving educational materials, improving student placement tests, and increasing the number, frequency and locations of course offerings. Expanded services in adult basic education are expected to begin over the coming year.
The Government of Canada support is being distributed based on each territory’s adult basic education needs, and calculated according to each territory’s share of working age Northerners lacking a grade 12 education. Initial funding to support projects and activities for each territorial college is being distributed as follows:
Nunavut Arctic College
CanNor funding: $11,112,750 (2011-16)
Nunavut Arctic College will receive more than $11 million over five years to carry out a number of program enhancement initiatives including capacity building through additional adult educators and resources, curriculum development, assessment tools for literacy, pan-territorial planning and monitoring, and a career experience program linked to local labour market and opportunities.
The College will continue to work in partnership with key stakeholders in Nunavut and pan-territorial post-secondary partners, including the Government of Nunavut Department of Education and the Nunavut Literacy Council, to ensure project outcomes meet labour market needs for job or training readiness.
CanNor funding: $308,000 (2011-12)
Yukon College will receive over $300,000 in 2011-12 to develop strategic priorities and a four year work plan for adult basic education (ABE) in the territory. Yukon College will work in partnership with Yukon First Nation governments, relevant service providers and employers to introduce programming to improve the literacy and employability successes of Yukoners, with a strong emphasis on rural initiatives to respond to unique regional social and economic realities.
Additionally, the ABE program will focus on training opportunities for faculty and instructors, placing Yukon College’s ABE teaching materials for instructors on-line, and developing and piloting a series of ABE programming initiatives to significantly improve literacy, numeracy and computer skill levels. New programming initiatives through the ABE program at Yukon College include a Skills for Employment Plumber’s Helper program in Pelly Crossing and a Skills for Employment Cooking program at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.
CanNor funding: $621,780 (2011-12)
Aurora College funding: $59,000 (in kind)
Aurora College will receive support of more than $600,000 to improve the delivery of ABE programming for residents of the Northwest Territories. The College will use this first year of funding to focus on preparatory work to facilitate program delivery over the subsequent four years. Aurora College, in collaboration with NWT Aboriginal governments, partners, stakeholders and other education delivery agents, will develop a four year Community and Extensions Strategic Plan, to address gaps in basic education, increase job and literacy skills, develop instructor capacity, boost high school graduation rates, and improve community access to educational resources. The College will work in partnership with the Government of Northwest Territories and other stakeholders to ensure project outcomes meet labour market needs for job or training readiness.
The Government of Canada is committed to making tangible improvements to the quality of life of Northerners, including Aboriginal people, in support of its objectives under the Northern Strategy. CanNor will also work with partners to share successful ABE approaches, so that they can be applied in other regions.