Have your voice heard: Education review panel calling for feedback from everyone

Ruth Davenport, Metro Halifax
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The panel charged with reviewing the provincial education system is urging everyone in Nova Scotia to get involved – but especially students.

Myra Freeman, chair of the Minister's Panel on Education, speaks with Prince Andrew High School students filling out a electronic survey.

“The students are at the center of the system and they are the closest to it and they are the ones who are mostly affected by it,” said panel chair Myra Freeman during an event at a Dartmouth high school on Thursday.

The six members of the Minister’s Panel on Education fanned out across the province to launch the public engagement portion of the review, which included group discussions as well as an online survey covering everything from class subjects to equality to mental health.

In Dartmouth, Freeman spoke to a class of grade 11 and 12 students at Prince Andrew High School as they completed the survey.

Grade 12 student Brianna Mason said she appreciated the questions, saying she was frustrated with a lack of accountability in the existing system.

“Mainly pushing kids through school who don’t work for it,” she said. “They’re at the same level with kids who put 100 per cent into everything they do in school. I hate that.”

Grade 11 student Rachel Bishop said she was pleased with the focus on equality in schools, but said there needed to be more than two questions addressing mental health.

Overall, she said she was pleased students were being included.

“The questions that are on it are pretty important… I think that they should also have introduced it more, because I hadn’t heard anything about it until now and I think more students should be taking part in it,” she said.

Prince Andrew principal Greg MacKinnon said he was pleased with the attention the students gave to the survey, and said he’d encourage teachers to make time for all students to fill it out.

“I’m not a business person, but sometimes I see that model. (Students) are our clients. So we want to provide absolutely the best service we can for our clients,” he said. “They have good things to say.”

Freeman also urged the students to share the survey via Facebook and Twitter as widely as possible between now and the deadline of June 13.

“It’s taken 25 years to get to this point and we have done what we can do to facilitate it,” she said. “We need to gather as much input as humanly possible because without that input, the minister will not have the information that is required to determine whether change needs to be made.”

Organizations: Prince Andrew High School

Geographic location: Dartmouth

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