The Education Act requires that students attend school regularly and punctually, unless they have a health reason reported to the principal, or are involved in traditional activities on the land, living at an outpost camp, or attending home schooling (section 34). This is the law, and by extension, the expectation of each student in Nunavut. Ensuring this, in practice, is a challenge for our communities. Schools and DEAs should work with parents to improve attendance. The Education Act calls for the Minister to develop programs to encourage regular attendance (section 36), and for DEAs to create a policy to promote attendance in their community (section 36-37). This policy must be implemented by the principal, School Team, and School Community Counsellor in accordance with IQ.
According to the Education Act, it is the duty of a parent to promote regular and punctual attendance by the student (section 34(8)). As outlined above, in order to support this expectation, the DEA and principal/school team are required to create and implement a policy to promote attendance in their community. According to the Education Act, this policy should outline how to handle parents that have not registered their children in school, how to promote and support attendance, to provide for counselling to students and families in the event of non-attendance, and the involvement of Elders in encouraging attendance (section 37 (5)).
The right to attend school applies to any child in Nunavut who is:
a Canadian citizen or the child of a Canadian citizen, or
an individual who is lawfully admitted to Canada or the child of an individual who is lawfully admitted.
How does this influence Kindergarten registration?
A child who reaches age five by December 31 of that school year may be registered to attend Kindergarten, at the parent’s choice, but they are not required to be registered by law until the year they turn six.
The role of the DEA Chair and DEA members is outlined throughout the Education Act, but specifically in sections 128-154. They are also described in plain language in the Nunavut Education Act 2008: Reference Guide for District Education Authorities and School Principals in the “Key Duties” section.
The DEA is responsible for development and implementation of the following, in accordance with their local community needs and goals:
Development of Inuuqatigiitsiarniq (Positive School Environment) and Registration and Attendance policies and programs
Decision-making with regard to language of instruction model use
Oversight and dispute resolution associated with Inclusive Education
Development of the School Calendar
Increased responsibility for staffing and supervision and direction of principals
Ability to recommend Elders for certification of their expertise, and employment of Elders in the schools
Increased DEA operating budgets
Provision of early childhood education language and culture programming