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Roll out of new school curriculum underfunded, say Okanagan teachers' association

Teachers are giving the new curriculum a good grade but say the government is not properly funding its introduction.
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CENTRAL OKANAGAN - Teachers in the Central Okanagan School District are welcoming the new provincial education curriculum but say the province isn’t providing enough money to give it a proper introduction.

“It is a huge reform, complete overhaul from stem to stern and teachers have been very involved in the development of this curriculum. Like anything else, people need to be trained, they need time to work with it and it all costs money, but there’s nothing coming and the districts are struggling with that,” Central Okanagan Teachers' Association President Susan Bauhart says.

Yesterday, Sept. 1, the Ministry of Education announced a three-year phase in for the new curriculum, which has been in the works for several years.

Education Minister Mike Bernier is touting its flexibility, allowing students latitude in following their own interests, while still requiring core competencies and developing collaborative and critical thinking skills.

“There was just so much stuff in it before with so many things we were expected to cover. It was three miles wide and half an inch deep in terms of time to explore a subject and have it mean something to the student.”

Bauhart says the new project-based curriculum reflects the change technology has wrought on education and the collaborative skills that are in demand.

“It’s now a mile wide and maybe an inch or two deep but it hones in on the things that are really important. Kids will be able to go after a subject in ways that will hopefully resonate with them.”

The new curriculum is being phased in over three years. Teachers in Kindergarten to Grade 9 have the option this year to use the new curriculum but must begin using it by next year.

The Grade 10 to 12 curriculum is still being written but it too must be in place in all school districts by the 2017-18 school year.

If money is lacking, Bauhart is quick to absolve the Central Okanagan school board of the blame.

“The trustees feel the same frustration we do. They must present a balanced budget or they get fired. There is a monumental lack of resources for this and it’s a travesty.”

The Central Okanagan School District has aproximately 22,000 students and almost 1,200 full-time equivalent teachers.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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