Yukon Party promises big changes in territory's schools

Election candidates say students will be more motivated if schools provide experiences that interest them and are more likely to prepare them for future careers.

Candidates say students want more hands-on training and career preparation in high school

Yukon Party candidates Scott Kent, Vanessa Innes and Doug Graham promoted their party's plans to reform schooling in the territory if their party is re-elected. (Dave Croft/CBC)

The Yukon Party is promising to make big changes in how and what students learn in the territory's schools if it's re-elected on Nov. 7.

The plan is based on the success of the rural experiential program and other hands-on programs in Yukon schools, said Doug Graham, who is running in the Whitehorse Centre riding. 

"Instead of kids having to get together once or twice a year in a rural experiential model, that they will be able to attend a school that's specifically designed for experiential learning," said Graham.

He points to the Wood Street School which hosts the MAD (Music, Arts and Drama) Program and Outdoor Education classes, among other programs. Graham said the Whitehorse Hockey Academy has also had great success working with Porter Creek Secondary School.

Hands-on education a hit with students, says Graham

"Once they got to be a part of that hockey team and were told if they don't attend, they won't be on the hockey team anymore, their attendance improved 100 per cent, so it does work," said Graham.

He said his own interviews with students have shown to him that they are far more excited about coming to school when it reflects their own interests and ambitions.

Porter Creek Secondary School worked with the Whitehorse hockey academy last year to ensure the players succeeded at school as well as on the ice. That relationship continues this season. (Dave Croft/CBC)

"We realize that not everybody is going to go to university. All we have to do is take a look at the fact that there's almost 450 apprentices registered in the territory right now to know that there are a lot of young people out there who want to go that route," Graham said.

Vanessa Innes, the Yukon Party candidate in the Takhini-Kopper King riding, said she hopes students will receive advanced education in computers and how to use them.   

"When I look at my granddaughter, who's two and a half, she's already got a year and a half of iPad under her belt. So one of the things that excites me about education is preparing our kids with the foundational knowledge they need," said Innes.

Graham said Yukon would continue to use the B.C. curriculum as a framework, but more of the information would be about Yukon including First Nations culture and history.

Provision of school supplies will become permanent

Scott Kent, another former education minister who's running in the Copperbelt South riding, said he'd like to see students learn more about Yukon's mineral potential.

"Having students be able to learn about the geology of the Yukon, the earth sciences of the Yukon, the [Yukon] Geological Survey has done a tremendous job, but embedding this type of work right in the school curriculum will be tremendous as we move forward," Kent said.

He said the Yukon Party would also make permanent a pilot project that saw each student receive approximately $100 worth of essential school supplies this fall. Kent said it's a hit with voters he's talked to in Copperbelt South.

"Very positive, obviously excited about us providing that allowance. [It] gives some consistency, too, so that every child that shows up on the first day has the exact same package of school supplies," he said.



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