Eastmain is a welcoming and growing community, with a large portion of the population (63%) under age 35. The community’s consistently increasing graduation rates, high enrollment in adult education, and overarching positive attitude towards education show that its members are ready to embrace more lifelong learning opportunities from Sabtuan Adult Educatoin Services.
The Adult Learning Needs Assessment was highly successful in Eastmain. Over two-thirds of 15-45-year olds (67%) completed our survey, making this an extremely clear and detailed picture of adult education and capacity needs in the community.
Sabtuan Adult Education Services would like to thank everyone who participated in and promoted the Adult Learning Needs Assessment in Eastmain. We look forward to using the results to develop a local strategy that better serves the need of this youthful, vibrant community.
The Adult Learning Needs Assessment surveyed 319 Eastmain Eeyouch.
Most of those surveyed (268 participants) were aged 15-45.
7 community members and 2 employers also participated in qualitative interviews.
This sample size provides us with a confidence interval of 95% and a margin of error of 6%, making the ALNA a very reliable source of data on Eastmain community members.
All community members who took our surveys (100%) agreed with the statement “Education is important.” In addition, respondants believed that adult education (98%) and post-secondary studies (97%) led to better jobs and a brighter financial future.
The majority of adults in Eastmain have children, and intergenerational households are common: 63% of adults aged 26 to 25 have children, and 60% reported five or more people in their households. Creating programs and services that are supportive of students’ family lives is important for student success.
The top three programs of interest to community members were (1) Cree language, (2) traditional knowledge & skills, and (3) Cree culture and history. In their interviews, many students also emphasized the importance of a culturally relevant education. SAES can respond to this demand not only by offering these programs. but by taking steps to make all programs more culturally relevant.
The ALNA found a variety of programs that would meet employer needs and interest prospective students. These included Starting a Business, Carpentry, Northern Building Maintenance, and Administrative Assistant. Post-secondary programs were also identified in areas such as nursing, accounting, teaching and project management. Soft skill training in areas like teamwork and communication were also in high demand. These results will be considered when selecting programs for Eastmain.
In Eastmain, 63% of adults have at least one type of diploma. Many adults in the community are also interested in pursuing further education; 85% of community members are interested in going back to school.
Despite these encouraging signs, 57% of adults withdrew from school at least once during their education. Those who experienced one or more interruptions in their educational journey were less likely to have completed a diploma. Disinterest, problems at home, financial concerns and drug/alcohol problems were the most common reasons people withdrew from school in Eastmain.
A lack of local opportunities was a frequent concern shared by members of this community. This is particularly important in Chisasibi, as 26% of individuals say they would not be interested in pursuing education if they had to leave the community. In addition, employers that offer training in-community noted ongoing issues with attendance and retention. To respond to these challenges head-on, Sabtuan Adult Education Services will need to collaborate closely with community members, entities, and leaders to offer programs/services that keep people motivated, engaged, and moving forward towards their goals.
Through our interviews and follow-up questions, we were able to identify success factors which impact current and prospective students in Eastmain. Understanding these factors will help us to set up services and supports that help adults achieve their educational goals.
We also found out community members’ program interests, and discovered how these interests aligned with community/employer needs (by reviewing CENA results from Apatisiiwin Skills Development and interviewing employers). This will help us select and offer programs that will support the community’s future.
It is important to note that any strategy we build must have a strong cultural foundation and a plan for continuous community collaboration.
In Eastmain, 66% of adults 15-45 have children under the age of four and 42% of adults are single parents. This can have a significant impact when deciding to go back to school, as parents have unique demands when it comes to their time and finances:
I was trying to balance my lifestyle of working full-time, family at home and then going to school in the evenings. So, you know, my day was pretty much full.
It would be pretty hard (to go back to school) because my kid is only one and my siblings are going to go off to college so it’s out the question to get them to babysit. So, it would be pretty hard and there is a long waiting list for the daycare, if I was to go to Val d’Or.
Although the demands of school can be challenging for parents, many are motivated to go back to school in order to set an example for their children:
Just wanted to show my children why education is important. Just got tired as a parent by just saying it was important, so I just showed them by just going back.
My kids are missing me. I guess they miss that environment at home where both parents are helping with the chores and everything...I reassured him that it was just for a little while. I said, ‘You’re going to see me one day on that stage and I’m going to get my diploma’ I told him. So, he didn’t understand just then, but when it came to graduation day, that’s when he saw it and said, ‘I understand now’.
Going back to school is easier for those who have family available to help with babysitting. Convenient school schedules and access to daycare are also important for parents:
I had continuous encouragement from my husband, my colleagues, and my parents while I was in Adult Ed. There were occasions where I didn’t have a babysitter because my husband had to leave town for meetings. So, you know my family would always assist me and make sure the kids were in bed and taken care of while I’m in school.
When I’m done working, after work at 5 o’clock, I go to daycare pick up my kid, cook supper, clean up and drop him off, it’s 2 doors down from the Adult Ed.
To support parents in their educational journey, financial support programs and convenient schedules are key. One scheduling consideration adults shared was a preference for a schedule that was similar to their children’s school and daycare schedules. This allowed adult students to take their break and lunch together with their children. Therefore, weekday and evening classes are strongly preferred to weekends:
In 2020-21, Sabtuan Adult Education Services launched its own financial assistance program for adult education students, which includes amounts for dependants. We will also be careful to keep in mind the scheduling and support needs of parents as we build our plan for Eastmain.
It’s your turn! How can the community at large better support parents who want to go back to school?
All of the Eastmain community members surveyed agreed with the statement that “Education is important.” Despite this fact, 57% of respondents said they withdrew from school at least once, most often in Secondary III or IV. Of these, 41% say that boredom and disinterest were among their main reasons for withdrawing.
This data shows the importance of creating an engaging, inspiring environment for adult students. There are a few ways we can work to achieve this:
Promoting high-quality teaching. Adult education students reported that their teachers were knowledgeable (98%), easy to communicate with (92%) and understanding of the Cree culture (75%). This plays an important role in their success. Experiences with teachers at the Elementary and Secondary level can also have a lasting impact on students:
There was this one teacher that really and always pushed me. Like, she knew I could do it. I guess I was a brat you could say, and she never gave up on me despite how rude I would be to her. She always pushed me, she would always go see my mom and tell her ‘she’s not listening, she doesn’t want to do her work’ [chuckles]. So, when I graduated from high school, I thanked her because without her I probably wouldn’t have done it.
I remember we were getting pretty encouraged to like continue our studies after we’re done (with high school). I’m not sure how it was in the past years, but it seemed like we were encouraged a lot to finish high school and go to post-secondary. The teachers, they saw potential in us.
Increasing cultural relevance. Current and past adult students shared that they would like to see more culturally relevant opportunities available through Sabtuan Adult Education Services. This could include Cree-centric programs, workshops in traditional skills, or a stronger emphasis on Cree culture and history in course content.
Our culture is still so strong. We need to embrace it… all the time, our language… our teachings… our activities… anytime that it can be incorporated in education, it will always be beneficial.
We talked about that once, the students, and even though the subjects are based on General Education, cultural activities could be added to practice even though the teacher is non-Native. We have a Cree language teacher, what if we could maybe have somebody from the school show us things in the evening while we’re in school?
It’s your turn! What are other ways we work together to improve the learning experience for Eastmain students?
In addition to the environment at school, a student’s situation with friends, family, and in the community make a big difference in their success.
In our interviews, students shared the importance of encouragement, particularly from classmates or close family members:
My classmates at Adult Ed, they motivate me: ‘you can do it’. You go through the same instruction together. Do the same thing and have the same question as they do and I use my brain.
I brought three of my loved ones (friends and family) with me at Adult Ed and they all finished, I still haven’t finished... When one of them wanted to quit in Adult Ed, I kept pushing him. Encouraged him and supported him. You need a lot of support and encouragement. As for me, I accomplished a lot and I have only one credit left to do.
During the time when I was in class at Sabtuan, I tried to make a buddy system. So, the students looked after each other. If there was one student that was discouraged or said, ‘it’s too busy in my life’, to encourage her I said, ‘put yourself just 5 minutes in my shoes.’ I would draw out my day. I said, ‘you know I have kids; I have family and I work 9 to 5. I make sure that my family has supper and then I make it here for 7 o’clock to start our class. Now tell me what’s the difference (with your situation)?’ So, you know just try to boost her morale and change her mind. Because she was trying to discourage herself, and it helped.
I had continuous support from family, teacher and colleagues too from work. Reminding me you know, ‘don’t forget you have class.’ The support was everywhere. A lot of people knew that I was back in school and I think that’s where I got my boost.
A lot of the problems that I faced in school weren’t directly related to school, it was always personal life stuff. I had friends too that I lived with, that were going through hardships and if you’re living with a person that’s having hardships, you kind of have some hardships too. It kind of puts you in the wrong state of mind, because you know, you feed off each other.
It’s your turn! How can you help students in your family and community feel supported while in school?
For 37% of people who withdrew from their studies, finances played a role in the decision to leave school. In addition, needing to financially support the family was the number one reason why respondents did not go back to school. This was mentioned by the majority of respondents, regardless of their gender or education level.
It is clear from the data that many potential students struggle with the decision to leave their jobs in order to go back to school, even if education could lead to a better job in the future:
I guess my job is keeping me from going back to school. Because I have quite a bit of responsibilities and I’m enjoying where I’m at right now. Since I started working, I started buying things. I bought my own vehicle now I got to keep working. I’m making decent money and I’m able to buy the things that I wanted by myself and be independent.
The main reason why I left is because I didn’t have any money where I was staying and I was looking for a job. Someone hired me full-time, just to get by on money. School was getting tougher and subjects were starting to be hard. Some topics were complicated and I didn’t really understand. It was ok at first then I lost interest. Lost interest after maybe a couple months because of my financial problems. I didn’t really eat so I couldn’t concentrate.
We don’t mind hiring people with high school diplomas for admin jobs, but we’re hoping to get more people with college and university degrees.
The ones that require certificates, those are the hardest to fill. And the higher positions, like the more requirements there are, the harder it is. It’s difficult - let’s say when you hire somebody who’s supposed to have managerial skills. And you don’t find anybody and you pick the best candidate, and they don’t have managerial skills, you have to constantly coach the person and tell them how they should do things and they call or come more often than the others for advice.
It’s your turn! What else could help eliminate financial barriers to education in Eastmain?
Many potential adult education students in Eastmain are interested in deepening their cultural knowledge and skills., with the majority showing interest in culturally relevant programs. This interest aligns with our internal priorities at Sabtuan Adult Education Services, as we are working to both offer more culture/language programs and to increase the cultural relevance of all programs and services.
Entrepreneurship is also a key interest for adults in Eastmain; “Starting a Business” was the fourth most in-demand program according to our surveys. Other top vocational programs included Heavy Equipment Operator, Early Childhood Educator, and Professional Cook. Interestingly, many of the most popular programs for community members were also the most in-demand for employers, showing strong alignment between community and employer needs.
By combining community member data with employer feedback from Apatisiiwin Skills Developments’ CENA study, we were able to identify the highest-demand programs in Eastmain at present. This list of programs is by no means comprehensive, nor is it an official list of programs we are committed to offering. Other considerations, like feasibility of offering the program locally and the cultural component, will also be considered.
The Adult Learning Needs Assessment considered data from Apatisiiwin Skills Development (ASD)’s Community Employment Needs Assessment (CENA) in its program analysis. We also interviewed employers to follow up on the data. If you would like further information on the employment outlook in Eastmain, please contact ASD.
Employers and community members also mentioned several other skills which adult education could impart. These may or may not be part of a formal diploma program:
Employers noted that, in addition to local training opportunities, finding the time to train employees is another significant challenge.
I would very much like to see leadership skills, emotional intelligence, teamwork skills training; those type of training, like I said we only have general education with Sabtuan here in our community. I would like to see more…
The location of an educational program was very important in Eastmain. Twenty-three percent (23%) of Eastmain community members would no longer be interested in a program if it was located outside of the community. Preference for staying in the community was particularly strong amongst University graduates; 45% of those who had attended university would not pursue further education if it was offered outside the community. Parents of young children were also particularly concerned with the location of the program, as well as when it was offered.
Another way to provide education is through technology. If a program of interest was not offered in their community, 73% of respondents would be open to taking a course either fully or partially online. Most people preferred a combination of online learning and in-person learning. As Sabtuan Adult Education Services has significantly increased its digital capacity over the past year, these are options we could explore to serve more students.
It is life changing when you move from the community to go down south or even another community, you know the transition. It has an impact.
More information on program delivery can be found in the Community Education Profile.
Note: ALNA data was collected before the COVID-19 pandemic. Online learning readiness may have been impacted by recent events.
To best serve your community, Sabtuan Adult Education Services needs to fully understand your experiences, clarify your needs, and make decisions informed by your reality.
That is what the Adult Learning Needs Assessment is all about. The data collected through this initiative will help us make decisions and offer programs/services that truly reflect the goals and interests of community members. This information will be considered in all aspects of our growth and decision-making:
ALNA data will be used to select the local programs which will have the greatest impact.
The ALNA will not only influence what we teach, but how we teach it. Understanding student preferences and values will help us build a more responsive, culturally relevant adult education system.
With a stronger understanding of student motivations and student success factors, we can put measures in place to better support adult students.
The ALNA data gives us insight into which partnerships and community relations approaches will help us to best serve and connect with the community on an ongoing basis.
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