Yukon NDP tables private member’s bill on education policy

WHITEHORSE, YT – The Yukon NDP hopes to raise high school graduation rates through a private member’s bill designed to engage students in their communities. 

The bill, tabled Thursday, March 28, by Yukon NDP Leader Kate White, seeks to remove a section of the Yukon Education Act that prevents Yukon high school students from taking locally developed courses.

Locally developed courses can’t exceed 20 per cent of student courseloads per semester or school year, according to the Act. This means that locally developed courses aren’t an option for high school students on the semester system because even one course would account for a quarter of a semester course load. 

“It’s up to us as lawmakers to make education relevant and meaningful for Yukon kids — especially kids in rural communities,” White said.

“I met a woodcarver at an NDP barbeque last summer who was apprenticing a local high school student. It broke my heart when he told me that student stopped coming to the woodshop when school started because he couldn’t put his experience toward his high school graduation.

“Let’s change the education Act so kids can earn art credits by picking up a skilled craft,” White said.

Bob Sharp, a long-time Yukon teacher and education programmer, agrees.

“When students feel that what they’re doing in school is important, they’re much more likely to stick with it,” Sharp said.

“It’s about driving engagement. When you look at the part of the Act that limits locally developed courses, you see that it’s fundamentally inappropriate because it reduces students’ options as they work toward graduation.”

Sharp noted that the Yukon follows high school curricula developed in British Columbia, where lawmakers recently made a similar amendment to B.C.’s education Act.  

The Yukon NDP will call White’s bill for a vote on Wednesday, April 3.   

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  • Kate White’s private member’s bill seeks to remove Section 43 (2) from the Act.
  • Section 43 (2) of the Yukon Education Act states that, “Locally developed courses may constitute up to 20 per cent of the educational program offered to any student in a semester or a school year.”
  • Bob Sharp played a pivotal role designing experiential learning programs for the Yukon’s education department. is a retired Yukon teacher and education programmer.