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N.L. government announces education review, PCs dismiss 'another study'

MUN education professors Karen Goodnough and Anne Burke (l to r) and have been named chairs of the The Education Accord Advisory Team and have to deliver the Education Accord to the government in 11 months. (Mark Quinn/CBC - image credit)
MUN education professors Karen Goodnough and Anne Burke (l to r) and have been named chairs of the The Education Accord Advisory Team and have to deliver the Education Accord to the government in 11 months. (Mark Quinn/CBC - image credit)
MUN education professors Karen Goodnough and Anne Burke (l to r) and have been named chairs of the The Education Accord Advisory Team and have to deliver the Education Accord to the government in 11 months.
MUN education professors Karen Goodnough and Anne Burke (l to r) and have been named chairs of the The Education Accord Advisory Team and have to deliver the Education Accord to the government in 11 months.

MUN education professors Karen Goodnough and Anne Burke (l to r) and have been named chairs of the The Education Accord Advisory Team and have to deliver the Education Accord to the government in 11 months. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

The N.L. government has tapped two Memorial University professors to create a road map by the end of the year to modernize education.

The Education Accord advisory team chairs are Karen Goodnough and Anne Burke, who both teach in the education faculty.

"We're at a very pivotal time, we feel, here in this province, in terms of education. And it's a time where we want to take a step forward in modernizing and transforming education," Education Minister Krista Lynn Howell told reporters Thursday.

"So we've got some, some big plans and some lofty goals for these ladies, but know that they're up for the challenge."

The government says the accord will encompass early learning and childhood development; education engagement and transformation, health and well-being in education environments, and post-secondary education and learning across the life span.

Goodnough said it's an opportunity to take all the past reports and documents on education and act on them, while also working with other partners and stakeholders to improve both economic and social goals.

"This is a big task, we recognize that. But it's about creating a shared vision for K-12, post-secondary, formal learning and informal learning. It's very exciting, extremely exciting," said Goodnough.

Burke said the work will look at education from "birth to, say, 105," adding that it's important to include seniors and opportunities for continuing education.

Aggressive timeline

There have been past attempts by the government to reconfigure the education system — under former premier Dwight Ball there was an education action plan — and Howell said they have a lot of good information from that previous research.

"But I think now we're at a point where the ground has really shifted under us, over the last few years, during the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic," said Howell. "So we want to take that in consideration with all the information that we've been given before, take an evaluation of that and continue to see what opportunities there are to move forward."

Funding for the accord will be absorbed by the Department of Education, she said.

Education minister Krista Lynn Howell says N.L. needs capable students if it wants to be a leader in new industries and technologies.
Education minister Krista Lynn Howell says N.L. needs capable students if it wants to be a leader in new industries and technologies.

Education minister Krista Lynn Howell says N.L. needs capable students if it wants to be a leader in new industries and technologies. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

The accord is due to be delivered to the government by Dec. 31.

"We've given these ladies a very aggressive timeline," she said.

More studies

PC education critic Paul Dinn wasn't impressed by the announcement, listing past initiatives like the public post-secondary education review report, the premier's task force on education, and the symposium on learning loss due to COVID 19.

"The minister's desk is full of announcements, studies and reports outlining the problems facing the education system in our province," said Dinn in a statement.

"Teachers, parents, child-care workers and other stakeholders have been calling for action for years. Yet the Liberal government wants to do another study and kick the can down the road."

Dinn said vision and action are needed but he doesn't see that in the Liberal government.

John Harris, executive director of external affairs of Memorial University’s students' union, is interested in finding out how the Education Accord Advisory Team plans to consult with students.
John Harris, executive director of external affairs of Memorial University’s students' union, is interested in finding out how the Education Accord Advisory Team plans to consult with students.

John Harris, executive director of external affairs of Memorial University students' union, is interested in finding out how the Education Accord Advisory Team plans to consult with students. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

John Harris, executive director of external affairs of Memorial University's students' union, also wasn't impressed with the plan.

"We don't need a yearlong study to tell us that this government has made education unaccessible for post-secondary students," he said, pointing to a recent tuition increase.

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