Sask. government must consult more before centralizing online learning, says teachers' group

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation says the province is rushing its plans to centralize online learning. (Carlos Osorio/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation says the province is rushing its plans to centralize online learning. (Carlos Osorio/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) is asking the provincial government to pause its plans to centralize online learning.

The province says it wants to offer a standardized form of online learning, and will have it ready in the next year, but STF president Samanatha Becotte says there are too many unanswered questions.

"We don't want to build a plane in the air," Becotte said during an online news conference Tuesday.

She said teachers and parents have not been consulted sufficiently and that the province needs to do that before moving ahead.

"We would encourage the government to engage in consultation with teachers, students, parents and other education partners, delay the timeline that they've announced in regards to the online education system, and ensure that we get it right," she said.

Saskatchewan Teachers Federation
Saskatchewan Teachers Federation

Becotte said teachers and parents know their local needs. She said she worries they won't be taken into account. She also questioned whether areas with technological challenges like slow or absent internet service will suffer.

"Our students deserve the best and our students need a well-run, well-funded thought-out system that can meet their diverse needs," she said.

There are currently 33 separate online school systems in Saskatchewan serving roughly 4,000 students combined.

Education Minister Dustin Duncan has said centralization will be more efficient and offer a greater variety of classes.

In a statement Tuesday, a government official said the Ministry of Education, "has been consulting with school divisions and other stakeholders since that time as part of the preliminary planning process in developing a new online learning model."

"The new online learning model will provide greater choice and more opportunities for all students in the province, while ensuring that all students accessing online learning are receiving a consistent high quality education experience."

The official said the ministry is in the process of determining a funding and staffing model, as well as other details.