Question Period (12.11.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

MR. KIRBY:Mr. Speaker, a new literacy study shows that the gap between the reading achievement of boys and girls in Newfoundland and Labrador is the largest in Canada. As a result, fewer boys than girls are completing high school academic programs and more boys are dropping out of school.

Why has the minister failed to help teachers and parents close the gap between boys’ and girls’ reading performance?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased with the results that came out in terms of how our students are doing at the Grade 4 level. They have scored on par with Canadian averages, Mr. Speaker, better than internationally.

Recognized within that is the challenge that boys are struggling. It has been something that has been constant – if we could say that, Mr. Speaker – for a number of years. It has been recognized, and efforts are put in towards that. Do not underestimate our investment in this; we have the best teacher-student ratio in this country, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: We have increased our per capita funding, Mr. Speaker, to teacher allocations; 822 additional teachers are remaining in the system because of our continued commitment to the needs-based formula –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, students in this Province are less likely than others in Canada to read when they are out of school. While public libraries are critical to improving family literacy, we have fewer libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador compared to the 1990s.

Why is government failing to invest in new public libraries when they are such a crucial resource for families with young children?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: I am quite glad; it seems that something has finally sunk in to the hon. member, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am waiting for the day for the gentleman to rise and applaud government for their $4.8 million investment into early childhood education, because, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what I am echoing, what he just said. We recognize that there are places that we have invest outside the school, and the zero-to-three age is exactly where we put $4.8 million.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The member has time for one quick question without preamble.

MR. KIRBY: When will the minister stop blaming parents and seriously look at the need for more public libraries across the Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The minister has time for one quick answer.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, that is one of the most disgusting questions I have ever received. Parents are our most important partners in education, Mr. Speaker. We recognize it and we invest in it.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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