Sunday, November 29, 2009

Part 1. Part of Larger Problem - Low local school numbers

Steve Goodwin's article in the local weekly should have surprised me. It didn't!!(... continued)

Over the past number of years, Canada has experienced a very significant growth in population. I heard our environment minister, the Hon. Jim Prentice, say words to that effect in a CBC radio interview last week. So perhaps I should have been surprised by Steve Goodwin’s article in the weekly Pictou Advocate. But I wasn’t.

Goodwin had reviewed the latest student enrolment figures provided by the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and found that this school year, 2009-10, Pictou County schools only have 6,718 students. This is just 83 per cent of the number in 2001-02 when our schools registered 8,048 students. By 2004-05 enrolment had declined by seven per cent to 7,490 and we have seen a further nine per cent drop since then. (Actually, if Goodwin's numbers are correct, the most recent enrolment decline from 7,490 to 6,718 is 772 which is not 9 per cent but a full 10.3 per cent drop.) So we have a very serious problem that is not only getting worse but is doing so at an accelerating pace.

But should we be surprised? What we see in this school population decline is a sure sign of a social disintegration that we are experiencing here in Pictou County. If we are to do anything about this problem, we must not seek to blame others but view a social disintegration as something caused by our own failures here in Pictou County. Education is a community sector and I believe that as communities we have failed to recognize the importance of planning and working to keep all 12 of our community sectors properly integrated to generate the synergies needed to promote essential community growth and health.

Several years ago in Halifax, I was in a social development planning group that was working to improve the lives and lots of members of our disabled community in Nova Scotia. Our speaker was Doug Logan, a training consultant from New Glasgow and I recall he said something which struck me as both patently obvious and at the same time absolutely profound. It went something like this:

If you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting the same results that you have always gotten.

Think about that! Turn it around. If you want to get a different result, you must do something different.

So who must do something different to combat our social disintegration? Frankly, we all should. However, we need to begin with the leadership sectors in our various communities. In this case, that is our Pictou Regional Development Commission (PRDC) and those officials who we democratically elected to lead and represent the people.

I have a number of thoughts and suggestions to offer our community leadership on this subject. I’ll put these to paper and expand upon them when I write again next week.

The End - Return to main page

No comments: