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N.S. government announces plan to streamline requirements for education programs

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston speaks at the Progressive Conservative annual general meeting in Halifax on Friday. (Michael Gorman/CBC - image credit)
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston speaks at the Progressive Conservative annual general meeting in Halifax on Friday. (Michael Gorman/CBC - image credit)

Prospective teachers will soon be able to apply to education programs at Nova Scotia universities after just two years of undergraduate study, Premier Tim Houston announced Friday night.

Students are currently required to have completed an undergraduate degree before being able to apply. Houston told a crowd of about 350 people gathered at a downtown Halifax hotel for the Progressive Conservative's annual general meeting that his hope is the change will be ready in time for fall enrolment at universities.

"Just like the old days," he said. "It worked then and it will work now."

Speaking to reporters later, Houston said the policy change is intended to address a shortage of teachers in the province and get more people working in classrooms sooner. He said there is "a serious disconnect" where people are able to work as substitute teachers now, even if they do not have teaching degrees.

"It will be an opportunity for a lot of people to become teachers in this province and we're excited about it."

Jobs offers extened to all prospective grads

The change is not the only one meant to boost the teaching ranks in the province. During his speech, Houston said job offers have been extended to everyone preparing to graduate with an education degree from a Nova Scotia university.

Education Minister Becky Druhan told reporters that during a recent job fair for the universities, regional centres for education extended about 300 employment offers. Druhan said she's expecting most of those offers to be accepted.

"What we need to do is make sure that all of our schools have all of the teachers they need when they need them."

Ongoing conversations with university officials and an evaluation of workforce needs will determine whether more seats need to be created in university education programs, she said.

Houston said talks with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and universities about the change have been happening behind the scenes for a bit, but he's "sure it just ramped up in seriousness."

These are the latest efforts the Tories have announced to try to get more people teaching in classrooms across the province.

Last year, changes were made to grant early certification to students nearing graduation from education programs so they could take on subbing work. In December, the government announced a new fast-track education program at Cape Breton University that will allow people to graduate sooner.

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