Yukon College releases YNTEP academic review report
WHITEHORSE—Yukon College released a report today that calls for far-reaching changes to the Yukon Native Teacher Education Program (YNTEP).
"Looking Forward: Preparing Yukon Teachers for Yukon Schools" is a summary of findings and recommendations by external reviewers Dr. Thomas Fleming and Dr. Colin Chasteauneuf, who spent the past year studying the 23-year-old YNTEP program.
Dr. Fleming, a professor emeritus from the University of Victoria, conducted numerous private interviews and public meetings over the winter assembling information for the report. Dr. Chasteauneuf, recently a chair of the education department at the University of Northern British Columbia, reviewed YNTEP’s curriculum.
"We thank both reviewers for their hard work, insights and recommendations," said Bill Dushenko, vice-president Academic at Yukon College. "They have certainly given us much to think about and we are excited about moving forward."
Dushenko also announced the formation of a review action committee charged with taking onboard the reports’ recommendations and determining next steps.
The committee will be made up from representatives of the College’s academic staff, the President’s Advisory Council on First Nations Initiatives (PACFNI) at the College, the Department of Education, and Yukon Teachers Association. The review action committee will begin meeting this summer and will roll out plans over the coming months.
The 92-page report is an exhaustive study of the YNTEP program, which began in 1989 as an effort to get more Yukoners of First Nations descent teaching in Yukon classrooms. The pre-built elementary teacher education program for Aboriginal peoples was acquired from the University of Regina, and graduates receive a University of Regina Bachelor of Education degree.
Fleming says YNTEP has met its original mandate by improving First Nations teacher representation in Yukon schools – increasing from one in 1989, to 42 in 2012. He found that having a TEP program based in Yukon is a source of great pride for Yukoners.
He says students in the program receive as good a degree as any other teacher education program in the country.
However, he also says he heard many concerns about the quality of some graduates of the program, which he says has undermined perceptions about the program as a whole and its graduates.
He says these problems stem from the difficulty finding enough qualified candidates for the program in the early years, inconsistent recruitment and testing standards, and the difficulty of upgrading students busy with the demands of the teacher program itself.
The program has also experienced a lack of direct oversight and too-few program reviews over the years, Fleming says. He also found deep divisions remain about the program’s cultural components. But, he notes, expectations about what the program should achieve in terms of language and cultural preservation would be almost impossible to meet for any teacher education program.
Chief among his six recommendations, Fleming suggests the program should be rebuilt from scratch, renamed and run by Yukon College itself. It should be made more flexible and expand to offer more options for students. New partnerships should be forged with First Nations and other groups for a more made-in-Yukon program to meet the needs of 21st Century students.
"Dr. Fleming and Dr. Chasteaunuef have done an outstanding job in helping us define the issues," says Deborah Bartlette, dean of Applied Arts at the College. "We knew going into this process there were concerns about YNTEP. What they’ve done is take a snapshot of those concerns, and point the way to possible futures."
"But they’ve also left it up to us to decide where we want to go. We hope Yukoners concerned about education will use this report to move forward together."
The report is available for download at: www.yukoncollege.yk.ca/yntep_review