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Area residents provide input into education review

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The future of education in Manitoba was the focus of a public workshop in Dauphin, Saturday morning.
Hosted by the Kindergarten to Grade 12 Commission, more than 80 people attended the education review, including teachers, former teachers, school administrators and parents.
The workshop allowed participants to share their ideas and input on various topics and issues surrounding education.
There have been nine such workshops across the province so far, with two more scheduled for Winnipeg.
Mark Frison, president and CEO of Assiniboine Community College and commission member, said there are other ways people can contribute to the commission.
“In addition to these, people can submit online. They can send in informal written comments and written formal briefs, so that this is just one of the ways people can get their oar in the water,” he said.
The purpose of the workshops, Frison said, is to help the commission provide advice to the provincial government about how to improve the education system for students.
Many of the topics discussed at the Dauphin workshop were common among previous workshops, Frison said.
“And then each one has its own local flavour that reflects that community. I think that’s what’s been good about getting around the province. You do hear what are the differences between when you’re in Winnipeg or in southern Manitoba or in northern Manitoba,” he said.
Workshops such as the one in Dauphin are important, Frison said, because the public consultation portion of the commission’s work is one of the major trusts.
“So you want to find a way that people can interact with the commission in a way that’s comfortable for them,” he said.
“Some people love to go online and fill out a survey. Other people might want to submit a written brief. Some people like to come and talk. Talking is certainly one of the things that, I think, promotes greater understanding, because you can have a richer conversation about what are they trying to communicate.”
Frison was pleased with the attendance, noting people gave up their time on a Saturday morning in spring to provide their advice.
“And many who traveled from around the region. I’m really impressed with the people who are coming out to interact,” he said.
The commission has received a lot of policy advice, Frison said, but people have also shared personal stories.
“That is one of the things that is always a bit touching. When teachers or parents tell you about what their personal experiences have been like,” he said.
“I think it gives you a richer sense of what the challenges are and some of the great things that we are already doing well.”
Chance Henderson, president of the Mountain View Teachers’ Association, was pleased to see such a diverse group of people attending the workshop, which, he said, demonstrates the diverse needs of the region.
“They spoke out loud and clear in support of change within our system, but also support of what’s working well. Optimistically, looking towards the future, we have a great opportunity in front of us. The last time such a commission was undertaken was 30 years ago and that shaped education for those 30 years up until now,” he said.
“So, in looking forward to the future, this commission is looking to shape the next 30 years. So for people to come out and speak as passionately as they have on these variety of issues, is uplifting and inspiring and provides much hope for the future.”
Henderson hopes the commission’s report will eventually lead to the development of an education system that is equitable to all students and offers all students an even playing field so they can all excel and grow into the future they deserve.
It was inspiring to see such a diverse group attend the workshop, Henderson said, adding there were people from all walks of life.
“Farmers, business people, teachers, trustees, superintendents. It’s important, because when all voices come together, we gain greater perspective on the system as a whole. And if we’re empowered by identifying the full scope of needs within the system, obviously, we can take and better respond to those needs,” he said.
For more information on the commission, visit their website at www.edu.gov.mb.ca/educationreview.
The commission’s final report is expected to be released in early 2020.

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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