Oilsands companies could get a say in new Alberta curriculum

Suncor and Syncrude are among the companies asked to consult on what Alberta children will learn at school.

The Alberta government plans to include oil and gas companies in consultations on the new school curriculum.

School boards were asked to come up with groups to provide input on what children should learn.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson is defending the decision to include oilsands companies in consultations on Alberta's new school curriculum. (CBC)

The Edmonton Public School Board plans to ask oilsands companies Suncor and Syncrude what to teach children in kindergarten to Grade 3. 

"What are we looking for in the graduates of tomorrow. Certainly we have a perspective but we need to hear all stakeholders," said Mark Liguori, assistant superintendent of schools for Edmonton Public. 

Education minister Jeff Johnson thinks including the business community in discussions will help. 

"One of the things I think they may be able to help with is how do we attract kids to that side of the business, science technology and engineering piece of the education system that so much of the economy is telling us we're short on," he said. 

However, NDP education critic Deron Bilous thinks this is the first step in allowing corporations to influence Alberta schools, which he worries may go too far. 

"There's also examples in the United States where coal companies have been involved in curriculum design where they've written a completely one-sided view speaking only of the benefits," he said. 

Johnson says companies are only providing input and will not write the curriculum. 

Syncrude and Suncor aren’t the only companies involved in curriculum consultations. Stantec, PCL Construction, Apple and Microsoft Canada will also get a say.

Suncor has yet to receive an invitation to join the consultations. Syncrude hasn't decided whether it will take part. 


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