The education program at the University of Prince Edward Island will soon undergo some major changes, including becoming a one-year program instead of a two year one.
The changes, announced Wednesday, are geared toward attracting more applicants, producing better teachers and obtaining better results from Island students.
"We've taken away some summer for students. They're starting in May and they continue right through. So, there's a lot more learning happening in a short amount of time," said Ron MacDonald, interim dean of education.
The school days will also be longer.
The number of applications for the two-year program has been dropping, with more Island students applying to one-year B.Ed. programs elsewhere, said MacDonald.
Overwhelmingly, students have said in surveys that they would prefer the program to be one year.
"We would like to have more applicants, for sure. And the thing is, I believe it's a social responsibility to have our people come home, stay home and do their bachelor of education in P.E.I.," said MacDonald.
Fear of math and science
MacDonald also wants education graduates to help boost student outcomes on P.E.I. and to address the Island's poor international test results.
As part of the new program, there will be more training focused on teaching math and science.
"We're responding to what we've already predicted as an issue, the PISA scores confirmed it — that math and science is in need of extra support," said MacDonald.
Some teachers have a fear of teaching math and sciences, said Carolyn Francis, interim bachelor of education coordinator.
"It's justifiable because often across the country, I think many of our elementary school teachers would have arts degrees, and so don't have a strong background in math and science," said Francis.
UPEI is also looking into the idea of offering courses to teachers already in the system so they can brush up on math and science.
"We've put a lot of emphasis on literacy, and I think it's good to have a better balance in the educational program," said Gilles Arsenault, president of the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation.
In May 2015, UPEI will graduate the final group of students from the two-year program and the first group from the one-year program at the same time.
That's a total of 135 students.