Over the next six years, the provincial government will be spending $64 million to give its school curriculum an overhaul. It will reportedly cover climate change, computer coding, sexual and gender diversiy, mental health and indigenous history and culture. Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools Superintendent Karl Germann says incorporating First Nations perspective is a high priority.
“It actually occurs across Canada and part of the piece is so people get a better understanding of what happened to Aboriginal people and that’s just part of Canada history, and by doing that they become more aware of what happened and they can make sure the things are in place so it doesn’t happen again and Aboriginal people can be more successful in education.”
Germann says he’ll also be curious to find out whether the sexual health curriculum ends up mirroring that of Ontario’s which introduces some subjects as early as grade one. Learning about mental health is also at the top of his list, due to the high suicide rate in northern Alberta.
All six subject areas are getting updated, including arts, language arts, math, social studies, sciences and wellness. Grande Prairie Public School District Superintendent Sandy McDonald says it’s a big undertaking, but one he’s excited for. He’s most looking forward to more opportunities for out of school learning.
“What we can better do to prepare our students for life outside of school; anything that we can do in school that helps our students assimilate into our communities more effectively upon graduation from our system.”
The changes will be done is phases starting with the youngest students, but McDonald hopes the province will consider making some of the decisions that will have an impact on order students earlier as well. The current curriculum will be kept in the meantime.
Peace Wapiti School Division Superintendent Sheldon Rowe didn’t want to comment until he knew more about the potential changes.