SUMMERSIDE – The role of education in the community was the focus of a workshop held recently in Summerside by Education 20/20, an independent group devoted to improving the quality of education for every citizen.
The word “culture” arose often in a workshop on Tuesday evening in Summerside, said workshop chairman Don Glendenning.
He said while not actually defined, culture included the skills and attitudes needed to maintain a local economy, skills for living such as literacy, numeracy and personal finance, and the social skills needed to support a culture of care.
“This one had two aspects,” Glendenning said. “One was the culture of the community and the concern was for the long term of the good of the community. “We need people who have community values, who do things for the community, who are prepared to work in P.E.I. and that’s not always going to be high tech. It’s culture on both sides which was interesting because schools tend to focus on knowledge.”
He said the topic of culture occurred in a discussion about what the future of P.E.I. is going to be, about farming and fishing being key, about an aging population and the necessity of people needed to work in caring for older people including their buildings, transportation and a whole broad definition of care.
He said in order for communities to sustain themselves culturally, people in all of the service clubs in any community are needed to keep it going.
“There was a reference to the role the schools play in making that happen but it’s more than just knowledge and more than just having work skills. It’s also growing into the culture of making a community what it should be.”
A second theme of the workshop was that of the disconnect between communities and their schools, the lack of engagement, low attendance at school events, problem of voter turnout and limited communication. And this is happening, it was pointed out, although it is recognized that students perform better when parents are engaged. One specific suggestion was that CBC Compass create a regular slot for items about education.
Glendenning said there are more workshops scheduled. The next will be in Wellington on April 25 and future workshops are planned for O’Leary and Souris.
“Part of our objective is to encourage public debate,” he said. “We don’t have all of the answers but we believe strongly in the community being engaged in the education discussion.”
Glendenning raised the point of the lack of education associations there are working with the education system. He said in health care there are several, such as the Canadian Cancer Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation, the diabetes association and the number goes on.
“In our view, there is a gap in terms of organization on the community side working in support of education,” he said.
The workshop involves a presentation on the findings of a recent survey of over 200 Island youth between the ages of 15 and 25. The survey, Taking the Pulse of Island Youth, dealt with youth concerns about health, education, employment and social well-being. The presenters, led by Steve McQuaid, vice- president of the Community Foundation of Prince Edward Island and Katherine MacDonald, Researcher, provide details about the methodology and results.
Further information is available on the website, www.education2020.ca including an address for receiving the monthly newsletter.