Seizing the Opportunity: NBMC’s Response to Green Paper on Education in NB

by New Brunswick Multicultural Council
June 3, 2021

A year since its release, the New Brunswick Multicultural Council (NBMC) has presented the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development with a comprehensive response to the Green Paper on Education, which applies a specific lens on the educational needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students and parents. The response, delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, takes into consideration the implications of the pandemic and the anticipated increase in immigration numbers for the years ahead as it calls on the department to plan strategically for an increasingly diverse student community across the province.

We often talk about the wealth of skills and culture that newcomers are bringing with them as they arrive in our province,” notes Moncef Lakouas, President of NBMC. “However, it’s all too easy to forget that often the most important thing they’re bringing with them is their children who will grow up in our communities. And we have a collective responsibility to ensure that we’re making a real place for them in our education system and they can dream of bright futures for themselves in our province.

NBMC’s response paper highlights the dramatic demographic shift that is taking place in New Brunswick’s schools. The total newcomer and international student population is expected to rise from 7,500 in 2020-2021 to nearly 13,700 within five years and 23,500 within 10 years. “In 2014, for the first time we had more deaths than births in the province, which has an incredibly damaging long-term impact on our economy and our society,” explains David Campbell, President of Jupia Consultants Inc. “Without this influx of youth, total K-12 enrolment is projected to decline by 9% over the next ten years. Instead, we’re projecting the total student population in 2029-2030 will be over 28% higher as a result of children arriving from around the world to join our schools.

The paper therefore calls for a fundamental shift in educational approaches for these youth. “We’ve gathered input for this response paper through numerous consultations with stakeholders from across the province, including newcomer parents, student conferences, immigrant youth, education experts, and many more voices have been sought out in putting these recommendations together for the Minister,” added Arianne Melara, Manager of Youth Initiatives at NBMC, “It’s only with this depth of insights that we can begin to bring about the changes we’re asking to have implemented.

The report outlines a wide-ranging series of recommendations, organized under three primary paths of inclusion – Access Path, Educational Service Delivery Path and the Social Path. “There are so many steps that go into simply getting a newcomer student enrolled in schools, to seeing representation and diversity in the school curriculum, in supporting educators in teaching to increasingly multicultural classrooms, to ensuring children have fun and build lasting friendships in the schoolyard”, added Melara.

With these recommendations, NBMC hopes to lay out a framework for enhancing our province’s capacity to create true equity for all students.

Succeeding at Home: A green paper on education in New Brunswick was based on discussions and with professionals across the education system and followed by with one of the most extensive provincial consultations in New Brunswick’s history,” said Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Dominic Cardy. “We believe in ensuring New Brunswick’s education system is inclusive for all students and to accomplish this, we need to hear the voices of all New Brunswickers. I thank the New Brunswick Multicultural Council for their feedback and look forward to ongoing collaboration to ensure every student in New Brunswick is able to access a world-class education.”

The full response paper can be found on NBMC’s website.