Kindergarten Through Grade 12 Education in Yukon—Department of Education

Opening Statement to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts of the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Kindergarten Through Grade 12 Education in Yukon—Department of Education

(2019 June Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Yukon Legislative Assembly)

11 December 2019

Jo Ann Schwartz
Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Mr. Chair, we are pleased to be in Whitehorse today to discuss our audit report on education. This report was submitted on June 18th to the Yukon Legislative Assembly. I am accompanied by Karen Hogan, Assistant Auditor General.

In this audit, we looked at whether the Department of Education assessed and addressed gaps in student outcomes. We also looked at whether the Department delivered education programs that were inclusive and reflected Yukon First Nations culture and languages.

This audit is important because education is a path to helping youth become productive and participating members of society and communities.

Of equal importance is that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which documented the history and impacts of the Indian residential school system, called for improving education levels and success rates for Aboriginal peoples and for eliminating educational gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

Overall, we found that the Department did not know whether its programs met the needs of students, particularly those with special needs and those from Yukon First Nations.

We found that 10 years after our previous audit, gaps in student outcomes continued to exist between First Nations and non–First Nations students. We also found that gaps in student outcomes existed between rural and urban students.

Our latest audit showed that the Department of Education had done little to identify and understand the root causes of these long-standing educational gaps. Without this knowledge, the Department had no way of knowing whether its supports for students were working to improve student outcomes, or whether it was focusing its time and resources where they were most needed.

We also found that the Department had no performance measurement strategy to set targets and guide its actions in closing the gaps and helping students achieve their maximum potential. This lack of a strategy was a further obstacle that prevented the Department from addressing the root causes of educational gaps and improving student outcomes.

The Department has stated that it is committed to inclusive education. It defines inclusion to mean that all students are entitled to equal access to learning, achievement, and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of their education. With respect to inclusive education, we found that the Department did not monitor its delivery of services and supports to students who had special needs, nor did it monitor these students’ outcomes.

As a result, the Department did not know whether its approach to inclusive education was working, or whether it needed to focus more attention on certain schools, groups, teachers, or subject areas.

We found that although the Department had responsibilities for and commitments to providing education programs that reflected Yukon First Nations culture and languages, it did not do enough to create a partnership with Yukon First Nations that would allow it to fully develop and deliver culturally inclusive programs.

We also found that the Department did not provide enough direction, oversight, and support to help schools deliver culturally inclusive programming.

The Department of Education has agreed with all our recommendations. The successful implementation of these recommendations will be important to improving the Department’s ability to provide inclusive education services and supports to all Yukon students.

This concludes my opening statement. We would be happy to answer any questions the Committee may have.