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Yukon schools to introduce new curriculum this fall

Education officials say they're ready to roll out a new curriculum in Yukon schools this fall, with fewer exams and a stronger emphasis on the territory's First Nations culture and heritage.

Curriculum will emphasize Yukon First Nations 'ways of knowing and doing', with fewer exams

Yukon education officials announced the new school curriculum on Monday, at Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Education officials say they're ready to roll out a new curriculum in Yukon schools this fall, with fewer exams and a stronger emphasis on the territory's First Nations culture and heritage.

"Cultural awareness and the integration of Yukon First Nations' ways of knowing and doing have already begun in our Yukon schools, and we want to go deeper with that work," said Nicole Morgan, the education department's assistant deputy minister for curriculum.

Morgan says there will also be a greater emphasis on experiential learning. She says one example would be a canoe excursion, where students can learn a variety of things. 

"So, they learned their physical education, they can gather different samples from their environment where they learn about their science, they talk about Yukon First Nations' ways of knowing and doing in terms of stewardship, and the importance of traditional territory and the place they're at, and go back to the classroom and write about it," she said.

Yukon will continue to largely follow B.C.'s curriculum, but will tailor the material to reflect local culture, said deputy minister Judy Arnold.

"Residential school looks slightly different across Canada, and we do want the kids to understand that, but we want them to base their understanding in what we know about here," Arnold said.

The new curriculum will also involve fewer exams for secondary school students, and more classroom assessments and ongoing feedback. Exams for students in grades 10 and 11 will be phased out starting this year.

But Arnold said the main emphasis in schools will remain the same — developing basic skills in literacy and numeracy.

"Those foundational skills and competencies are at the heart of this work," she said.

A series of public information sessions are planned in the coming weeks, to introduce the new curriculum and answer questions. The first sessions are planned for Tuesday evening at F.H. Collins school in Whitehorse, and next Monday at Elijah Smith Elementary.

With files from Dave Croft

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