Teaching and learning are #1 priority for CNA after scathing review

Gerry Byrne wants to bring adult basic education back to CNA

Putting the emphasis on educational standards is the biggest priority at the College of the North Atlantic, after a report showed the college has been slacking for several years.

Last week, CNA and the Newfoundland and Labrador government released a modernization plan, which outlined some serious problems at the college.

"We really have to modernize our teaching, we have to be prepared to be able to teach the workforce of today and tomorrow for the jobs of tomorrow," said interim CNA president Elizabeth Kidd.

Some of the most glaring problems include a lack of emphasis on teaching and learning for several years, courses not being updated to match the job market and falling behind other post-secondary institutions, campus infrastructure not being up to standard, and a lack of coherent management system.

Kidd said the review showcased a lot of problems, and the list of things to fix can seem overwhelming, but she believes the work already underway will be able to address them.

"It can be rather daunting, but I don't think it is. We have a very detailed plan that we've submitted with this report and actually a lot of the work has already begun," she told CBC's St. John's Morning Show on Monday.

"We've balanced our budget this year for the first time in over 20 years, we have begun our academic planning, so we're looking at our programming much more attentively … we have leaders across the college that have actually started to look at all of these areas."

Not closing campuses

Current plans do not include closing any of the college's 17 campuses across Newfoundland and Labrador, or the campus in Qatar.

Instead, Kidd said the emphasis needs to be on finding efficiencies at each of the campuses and making them community "hubs" that offer more than just college courses.

"Whether we get into employment services, whether we start looking at combining services — other services — that the government offers — but also looking at unique training opportunities," said Kidd.

When asked how CNA had gotten so off track, Kidd said it was "a difficult question for me to answer," since she's been with the college for just a year.

Accountability now in place

But she did say that the modernization plan will put in place accountability in the future.

"I'm looking at this from a, what are we doing wrong and how to we move forward? And really this is the modernization plan to move forward, it's not really looking at what happened or how it happened in the past. It's really to correct it and move on," Kidd said.

"I don't know if there was accountability in the past, but what this report is creating is accountability for the future. We've already made promises to the government, as well as to our staff, because it's just as important for me to be accountable to our own employees."