Feature article / Education minister prepares to lead New Brunswick into a new school year (09/09/02)

NB 1261

Sept. 2, 2009

FREDERICTON (CNB) - The following feature article is released by the Department of Education in anticipation of the upcoming school year.

After being appointed education minister in June, former teacher Roland Haché has spent his summer preparing for the new school year.

"I feel extremely fortunate to be doing this job at a time when there are many positive things happening," said Haché. "The education system has undergone some very significant, yet very necessary, changes in the past few years. The knowledge and skills that students need to succeed in the workforce of tomorrow are very different from previous generations. It was essential that the education system be adapted to ensure that today's students have the tools they need."

Government's renewed focus on early literacy was one such shift that has already begun to pay off, as New Brunswick's Grade 2 students are steadily increasing their literacy scores.

"Literacy is the foundation of learning," said Haché. "Success in early literacy is a strong indicator for further and future success as students move through the education system. We still have work to do, but we are laying a strong foundation thanks to the hard work of students, teachers, support staff and everyone involved in the education system."

Last year's reforms to French second-language programming have also had positive results, with 58 per cent of Grade 5 Intensive French students now hitting the provincial target, as compared to only two per cent under the previous Core French program.

An increase of $135 million in funding since 2006 has meant record resources and support for students. Almost 400 teachers have been added, along with about 500 teacher's assistants, school intervention workers and library assistants.

Haché said that concerns raised this summer that hundreds of library assistants, teacher assistants and intervention support workers would not be rehired, despite government's decision to reinstate the services, have since been allayed. Recent job placement days hosted around the province by local school districts show that of the original 588 layoff notices, more than 540 have been hired back for the upcoming year.

"While some positions have been lost due to declining enrolment, school closures and changing needs of students, I want to assure parents that student needs will continue to be met," said Haché.

Haché said that he is proud of the system's success rate, and he will continue to build on those initiatives that have resulted in:

"I believe that we all have a role in ensuring that our children and grandchildren receive an education that inspires them to reach their potential and prepares them for the future," said Haché. "I am excited about all of the good things that are happening, and impressed with the hard work and dedication shown by teachers, support staff, parents, district and departmental employees, and, last but not least, our students. I wish you all the very best for another successful school year."