ALNA Report - Waskaganish
Waskaganish is a dynamic and youthful community. The average age of a Waskaganish community member is 29.3 years old, and 62% of the population is below the age of 35.
Waskaganish Eeyouch embraced the Adult Learning Needs Assessment, with over one third of all adults between 15-45 participating in our surveys. Their responses indicated an engaged, vibrant community that values culture, families, and education.
With a centrally located training centre, enthusiastic population, and many opportunities ahead, the future for adult education is bright in Waskaganish. We look forward to using this data to improve our program selection, services, and strategies to better support the community.
The Adult Learning Needs Assessment surveyed 375 Waskaganish Eeyouch.
Most of those surveyed (329 participants) were aged 15-45.
17 community members and 14 employers also participated in qualitative interviews.
This sample size provides us with a Waskaganish community members.and a , making the ALNA a very reliable source of data on
Waskaganish Eeyouch care about education
Cultural relevance is highly valued
In our interviews, community members shared a desire for more Cree culture in Waskaganish adult education. In addition, the top three programs of interest to community members were Cree Language, Traditional Knowledge & Skills, and Cree Culture and History. SAES can respond to this demand not only by offering these programs. but by taking steps to make all programs and services more culturally relevant.
Waskaganish adults are open to online learning
Note that our survey was conducted prior to COVID-19; some perspectives on online learning may have changed over the past year.
Teachers are key to student success
Local demand for post-secondary graduates is high
Community Education Profile
In Waskaganish, the majority of adults have at least one type of diploma. In addition, most adults in the community are interested in pursuing further education. Individuals in this community value education and most are encouraged by their parents to continue with schooling, increasing the level of motivation for community members.
Half of the adults in this community (50%) had a linear educational pathway, meaning they did not interrupt their studies until they graduated. Those who experienced one or more interruptions in their educational journey were less likely to have completed a diploma. Disinterest, problems at school, and family responsibilities were the most common reasons people withdrew from school in Waskaganish. Despite these challenges, almost all students without a diploma (95%) would consider going back to school.
In Waskaganish, younger adults reported lower job satisfaction and higher levels of interest in returning to school than their older counterparts. Supporting the unique needs of young adults, especially those who have children at home, will be an important priority for Sabtuan Adult Education Services in the community of Waskaganish.
The community education profile shows us where we are. Now, it’s time to find out where we can go from here.
Through our interviews and follow-up questions, we were able to identify success factors which impact current and prospective students in Waskaganish. 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.
These all must be considered as we build a local adult education strategy for Waskaganish.
Student Success Factors
Teaching & School Environment
All Waskaganish community members surveyed agreed with the statement that “Education is important.” However, 50% of respondents said they withdrew from school at least once, most often in Secondary III or IV. Of these, 37% say that boredom and disinterest were among their main reasons for withdrawing.
This data shows the importance of creating an engaging, inspiring environment for students of all ages. In adult education, there are a few ways we can work to achieve this:
Promoting high-quality teaching: Adult education students reported that their teachers were knowledgeable (94%), easy to communicate with (88%) and understanding of the Cree culture (84%). This plays an important role in their success.
I like all of it at Sabtuan Adult Ed, there’s nothing that I don’t like. We have computers to do research too. It’s challenging, but it’s fun [laughs]. It gives me joy.
The teachers were very enthusiastic and they put us on a mode where we want to learn more.
I would like it if there were deadlines, I would finish my work.
At Sabtuan, the Cree culture is not really represented. Just reading, writing and listening. There’s no Cree culture, like sewing or making things. I would like it if they had it… It would motivate me if they did outdoor Cree culture things. If they taught the things you do in the bush. I would like that.
I would say that because we were taught Quebec history, it kind of confused me after high school. I know the (Cree) history now. I learned the history because of my work; How we got the beneficiary number, JBNQA and I wished I learned that in high school. I would be more thankful to know how they fought our rights and I didn’t even know that.
- Structured calendar (intake and exam dates).
- Ee-Es-Kwee-Dow (My Learning Plan) course for adult students.
- Developed Cree-centric Teaching and Learning Framework (will launch in 2021).
- Use new Cree-Centric Teaching and Learning Framework to support culturally relevant practices in the classroom.
- Hire an Academic and Information Officer to ensure potential students can access accurate, up-to-date information about programs.
- Increase support available to teachers so they can respond to unique student needs.
It’s your turn! What are other ways we can improve the learning experience at the Waskaganish Training Centre?
For many adult education students, the demands of parenting are a key consideration when deciding to go back to school. Parents have unique demands when it comes to their time and finances, which can mean additional challenges when going back to school:
School was not really challenging. It was just challenging because I needed to juggle my family life, errands for my kids and husband, but the teachers were easy on the students. They let me run my errands at the end of the day and work after.
I am pursuing my studies now and I hope to be an example for my kids first thing, and for other youth too… I want to be an example for my siblings too. Like, anything is possible even though you live in the community.
- Financial assistance policy includes amounts for dependants.
- Public childcare coverage now included in financial assistance for parents of young children.
- General education teachers often work to develop school schedules and assignments that work with parents’ lives.
- Further consider family dynamics as part of our Wellness Services/student support services.
- Increase collaboration with youth sector.
It’s your turn! How can the community at large better support parents who want to go back to school?
Parent & Family Support
Children are not the only family members who can impact the educational journey. Parents, grandparents, partners, and close loved ones can also have a significant impact on student success:
My sister tells me to keep going. She tells me ‘go to school’, she encourages me. She tells me ‘don’t quit’.
My partner wanted me to go to school. He would wake me up.
My cousins. I told them ‘let’s go to school together’. I was in school first then I told them they should go to school too. Now they’re in school too.
My parents. My dad. He woke me up every morning...he got us busy in the evenings, so we wouldn’t go out. He took care of us. And he was the one who really encouraged us to go on, go out, see the world.
- Wellness Services Counsellor and teachers encourage students to reach out to support systems when needed.
- Provide mentors/support for students without close family ties.
- Provide information sessions and community events that allow family members to learn about adult education.
It’s your turn! How can you help students in your family feel supported and encouraged?
When we interviewed Waskaganish Eeyouch, it was clear that careers and finances were a significant consideration for those looking to go back to school. Adult education students noted that one of their biggest motivations in returning to school was to qualify for jobs in the community:
My motivation was to have a steady income after. To be able to stand on my own two feet. My motivation has never changed. I still have that drive. I still want to succeed. And I plan on succeeding. And now, well to be honest, ever since I graduated – in my vocational program at Sabtuan – I’ve never been stuck without a job.
Every time I see postings about job openings, I always see it says high school diploma. That’s why I’m in school, because I want to look for another job or go to college. I don’t really see myself there yet.
- Launched financial assistance program in 2020-21 school year.
- Partnership with Apatisiiwin Skills Development to support transition to the workplace.
- Consider offering workshops for workplace integration skills like resume writing, time management, and communication.
- Grow relationship with Apatisiiwin Skills Development and employers to increase workplace transition support.
It’s your turn! How could employers support the educational goals of Waskaganish adults?
Many potential adult education students in Waskaganish 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 Waskaganish. This finding aligns with Waskaganish’s Community Plan (2015), which named entrepreneurship and career-building as one of its five (5) key action areas. We have already responded to this priority by offering “Starting a Business” in the 2020-21 school year, and will continue to consider how entrepreneurship can be supported by our programs, services and partnerships
In the qualitative interviews, community members mentioned the importance of offering a wider and more diverse program list. This is also evident in the list of the programs identified community member and employers, many of which have not been offered in Waskaganish before. Opportunities in sectors such as health care, education, construction, and food services are plentiful in the community, and members are eager to qualify for these local jobs.
By combining community member data with employer feedback from Apatisiiwin Skills Developments’ CENA study, we were able to identify the highest-demand programs in Waskaganish 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 Waskaganish, please contact ASD.
While many Waskaganish adults are open to traveling for short periods to continue their education, some preferred to remain in their community. Overall, 19% of people say they would only consider a program if it was offered in their community. Proximity to home mattered more to students who were older; location was only a barrier for 7% of respondents aged 15-20, compared to 25% of those 36-45.
I would be open to leave the community for a program that is less than 1,200 hours. More than that you are away too long from your family.
Another way to provide education is through technology. If a program of interest was not offered in their community, 72% of respondents would be open to taking a course online. Most people preferred a combination of online learning and in-person access to a teacher for questions. 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.
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.
Approach & Delivery
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.
Partnerships & Community Relations
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.