Democracy, simply, is different forms of government, where the people can take part in decisions that affect the way their community is ran. With the Education Review announced by the provincial government, Manitobans have the opportunity to voice their opinions. These opinions will determine the educational system for all students, thus influencing the viability of the area well into the future.
“But my voice does not matter and will not change anything.”
This is a common expression used by many as a reason why not to participate. An event from MVSD’s history can be used as an illustration as to how peoples’ voices were heard and used to effect change. This event was the “Pathways to Success” meetings held across the division. People packed gyms and meeting rooms to express their feelings on education and how it should be administered within the schools. The school trustees of the time listened and implemented programs to meet the needs and wishes of the area; for example video conferencing to enable students to stay in their home communities and receive the courses they require to enter into their chosen career.
The education system has not been reviewed for many years, and, as a result, has failed to keep up with the changing times. Students today require different supports and learning outcomes, while some outcomes remain the same, such as reading and math. Nonetheless, while considering changes, other considerations need to be weighed.
While trying to ensure students are receiving a quality education, school boards have begun to support mental health initiatives. The increase in students reporting mental health issues has risen dramatically over the years. Unfortunately, in rural Manitoba, the health supports are stretched to the breaking point. In order to help the students, school boards have hired mental health workers. For as one student stated at one of MVSD’s forums, “If I do not know how to cope, how am I going to learn?”
In addition, many students come to school hungry, thus have a hard time concentrating and being productive. Consequently, schools run breakfast and lunch programs in order to help students. Unfortunately, the schools do not have the resources and facilities to run full time programs.
According to EDI reports, there are many students entering the school system not ready for school. In order to assist the children, school boards have implemented extra resources to help support elementary students. The question that needs exploration is what can be done to support these students earlier?
With those thoughts, how can people become involved? There are a variety of ways. However, one of the best opportunities for all our communities – from Roblin, Grandview, Gilbert Plains, Ethelbert, Winnipegosis, Ochre River, and Dauphin – to ensure their voice will be heard is at the public consultation on May 11 in Dauphin. People do have to pre-register as there is limited seating at the venue. Any interested participants can go to MVSD’s website, www.mvsd.ca, and click on the green Manitoba Education Review banner. It will take you through the steps.
It is a busy time of the year for our area. As a result, there maybe people interested in participating, but cannot because of commitments. That does not mean theses voices are or should be lost. There are other ways to voice an opinion. The Manitoba Education Review has set up an online survey for the public or a written submission is an alternative. Information on these options is available following the Manitoba Education Review link found on MVSD’s website.
MVSD Board of Trustees would like to encourage all our public, from students to seniors, to use their voices and participate in this review. It is not unlike the community consultations MVSD holds every five years asking for input into the direction of the school division. The main difference is this consultation will affect the entire province for years to come, as the province, in all likelihood, will not conduct another education review for many years if history is any indication.