Advertisement

N.S. assessing proposals for fast-tracked teaching degrees from 4 universities

Nova Scotia's Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong says his department is assessing proposals from four universities that would speed up their respective Bachelor of Education programs. (CBC - image credit)
Nova Scotia's Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong says his department is assessing proposals from four universities that would speed up their respective Bachelor of Education programs. (CBC - image credit)

Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong says his department is weighing proposals from four universities that would lead to accelerated education degrees, similar to what Cape Breton University announced late last year.

"Those proposals are still sitting on the table, we're looking at them," Wong said in a recent interview.

In December, officials at CBU announced they would offer an accelerated online bachelor of education degree that can be completed in eight months after finishing an undergraduate degree, which is a requirement across the province.

The school is also reducing its in-person teaching degree from 15 months to 12 months, beginning this spring.

Wong confirmed that the other four universities in Nova Scotia that offer teaching degrees — Acadia, Mount Saint Vincent, St. Francis Xavier and Université Sainte-Anne — are in talks with his department about similar arrangements.

It's part of a broader effort by the provincial government to get more people into the teaching field.

In a separate move, Premier Tim Houston also announced last month that the government is also working to reduce the requirement to apply for an education program in Nova Scotia from an undergraduate degree to just two years of undergraduate study.

Becky Druhan is Nova Scotia's Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.
Becky Druhan is Nova Scotia's Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Becky Druhan is Nova Scotia's Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. (Patrick Callaghan/CBC)

Education Minister Becky Druhan said work to make the necessary regulatory changes related to teacher certification is ongoing, but she remains hopeful it can be done in time for the fall university semester.

"We'll take the time that we need to get it done," she said in a recent interview.

"But our teams are able to work fast."

Druhan and Wong said the ability of CBU to make changes to its programs quickly has them optimistic about what's possible at the other four universities. Although the changes at CBU led to the creation of 75 more seats, Wong said there are no plans yet to add seats at the other programs.

"Even by rotating through on eight months or students finishing in one year, that doubles the capacity of people that we can get into the workforce," said Wong.

According to his department, Acadia filled 121 of 126 education seats for the 2023-24 school year and Mount Saint Vincent filled all of its seats. Uptake was lower at St. F.X. and Sainte-Anne, where 82 of 105 seats and 29 of 65 seats, respectively, were filled.

Ryan Lutes is president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
Ryan Lutes is president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

Ryan Lutes is president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. (CBC)

Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Ryan Lutes said he's pleased by the government's effort to recruit more teachers, but he continues to have questions about reducing the requirements for getting into an education program and he's frustrated by the lack of collaboration with his union by the government.

"Getting our new teachers to be less educated doesn't help them actually succeed in our classroom," Lutes said in an interview.

The government is not putting enough emphasis on teacher retention, said Lutes. He cited a recent union survey that found 84 per cent of teachers who responded have contemplated leaving the profession in the last five years.

There continue to be problems with teacher workload, classroom conditions and issues such as violence in schools, said Lutes. All of those things are challenges to teacher retention.

"You can't tell me that our teachers are, you know, as supported as they should be. And at the end of the day, that means our kids aren't getting what they need."

The union and government are engaged in contract talks, which have gone to conciliation.

Druhan said any changes to teacher certification requirements would still ensure the system has "quality educators." Programs to support ongoing teacher education would also continue, she said.

MORE TOP STORIES