Education Minister Clyde Jackman says claims by the Opposition that education is of declining importance to the provincial government are unfounded and inaccurate.
The minister said in a news release today the provincial government is committed to providing quality education for all students.
“While student enrolment has actually decreased 17 per cent, by over 14,000 students since we took office in 2003, our investment in support of K-12 education has increased a dramatic 47 per cent, from $591 million to $867 million this year,” Jackman said.
The minister added the education system in Newfoundland and Labrador is better resourced today than ever before.
“Despite misleading comments from the Opposition critic, our children are not receiving a second-rate education,” said Jackman. “Since 2003, our per-pupil investment has increased 77 per cent. In 2008, we introduced a new teacher allocation model, with an annual investment of over $32 million. If the old formula was still in effect, there would be 822 fewer teachers in our system today. In fact, at 11.9 to 1, Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest student-teacher ratio of any province in Canada.”
Jackman said to meet the needs of students in the 21st century, the province has invested in new curriculum, new technologies, and skilled trades programming, while also eliminating standard school fees, extending the free textbook policy to include high school students and continuing to invest in music, theatre and visual arts programming.
Since 2004, he said, about $567 million has been allocated for school infrastructure throughout the province. Nine new schools have opened, 10 more are in various stages of planning or construction and 12 major extension and renovation projects have been completed.
In addition, Jackman said, more than 1,700 repairs and maintenance projects have been undertaken. “This level of infrastructure investments is unprecedented in the province’s history,” the minister said.
This article has been cchanged from the original.