The level of formal education and number of high school and postsecondary graduates is increasing, but still ranks low compared to the rest of Canada, especially in Nunavut13.
To clearly understand the information about formal education and skills we compare Aboriginal with non-Aboriginal in the NWT14. We have no comparable statistics for Nunavut, but suspect a similar picture for Inuit and non-Inuit.
Many Inuit and NWT Aboriginals have skills people need to participate in the land-based activities. They learn these skills within their families and from elders.
In 2001, 85.6% of Inuit spoke Inuktitut as their first language; 79.2% use Inuktitut as the only or main language at home15. In the Kitikmeot region, only 0.9% of Inuit spoke Inuinnaqtun at home; children often use English as their first language.
In the NWT, the percent of Aboriginals that speak an Aboriginal language has gone from 59.1% in 1984 to 44% in 200416. In Yellowknife, the percent dropped from 51.5% to 25.3%; in Hay River, Fort Smith and Inuvik, from 36.5% to 22.6%; in smaller communities, from 68.9% to 59.4%.
The 2003 International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS) measured prose literacy, document literacy, numeracy and problem solving. The IALSS scale uses level three as the minimum people need for everyday tasks in today’s world. Overall results show that the NWT matched the Canadian average in each category, although this picture is not overly encouraging. And Nunavut was lowest in all categories.
NWT results show that many working-age adults lack skills for everyday needs, including workplace needs: 40% lack prose skills, over 50% lack numeracy skills, and 70% lack problem solving skills. There is a huge gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. NWT results show about 70% of Aboriginal and 30% non-Aboriginal lack skills for everyday needs.
Nunavut results show that 88% of Inuit and 30% of non-Inuit lack skills for everyday needs, including workplace needs. Over 60% of people with jobs lack these skills. And over 80% of Nunavut’s youth between age 16 and 25 lack these skills.
IALSS showed a direct relationship between low employment rates and low literacy skills, and between high employment earnings and high literacy skills. IALSS showed people with higher literacy skills are more involved in community activities and as volunteers.
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