In 2017, Quebec’s Education Ministry certified the Individualized Paths of Learning (IPL) Program as a prework training program (PWTC). In 2018, the program was renamed Pinasulaurani pigiursatitauniit (work exploration). With ministerial accreditation, graduates now receive an official document from Quebec’s Education Ministry confirming their qualification.
In this program, students learn a variety of occupational skills and participate in a community project. They have the opportunity to
- get a practical initiation to various work situations,
- learn important occupational and life skills through hands-on training,
- work as members of a team to create and complete a community project,
- explore their interests and discover their strengths,
- gain valuable experience for the job market, and
- obtain an official document from the Ministry of Education confirming their qualification.
The program also ensures that students continue their formal education and improve their literacy and numeracy skills.
We spoke with Francis Marchildon-Cropas, the teacher in charge of the prework training (PWTC) program at Nuvviti School.
KI: Can you tell us about your students and your work environment?
FMC: I have 14 students: 12 boys and 2 girls. They’re at-risk teenagers who’ve opted for an academic path that’s more focused on integrating into the job market. I’ve tried to create a living space rather than a traditional classroom. Our greenhouse takes up half the room, and there’s also a computer corner and a living room area. I bring them food every day—fruit, yogurt, cereal, stuff like that.
KI: How is the teaching and learning process going?
FMC: We’re working on five projects that will help them acquire a variety of skills and knowledge based on activities like hunting, fishing, collecting plastic waste, greenhouse agriculture, and physical fitness.
There aren’t any traditional classes. Anything can be a teachable moment. For example, when we’re working in the greenhouse, growing plants or vegetables, they’re learning about botany, chemistry, physics, equipment maintenance, and so on. They’re also learning about planning, problem-solving, teamwork, and responsibility!
When we do outdoor activities, I talk to them a lot about history, about their history, techniques the Inuit and other peoples use to fish, hunt, build shelter, and make clothing. Building an igloo, a kayak, or a sled—that takes math, mechanics, and the ability to choose and use the right materials. It’s science!
When we go out kayaking or collecting plastic, we talk about the close relationship between humans, nature, and animals, we talk about environmental problems, waste management, and plants and animals.
When we go biking, play basketball, go skating, or do any other sporting activity, we talk about why sports are good for the body and the mind, about eating habits, and the impact of cigarettes. We’re also learning about mechanics, since we’re the ones fixing our bikes!
KI: So, what you’re teaching them goes beyond practical skills to integrate into the labour market?
FMC: Yes, I encourage them to exceed their limits, to work hard when the going gets tough, and to be proud of what they accomplish. I try to teach them patience, to enjoy working hard and being proactive instead of looking for instant gratification. I want them to believe in themselves and their potential. As I often say, I plant seeds hoping that beautiful plants will grow, whether it’s tomorrow, next year, or even in 10 years!
KI: Can you give us an example?
FMC: We’ve placed containers in strategic locations around the village to collect plastic waste. The waste will then be sent down south to be recycled. The students are doing something useful for their community, doing their part to make things better. Because of them, that waste won’t end up in the natural environment, it won’t cause pollution, and it won’t endanger wildlife. I frequently congratulate my students, I try to make them aware of the important role they’re playing, of the difference they’re making. I also tell them that one day, maybe one of them will start a local recycling centre instead of sending waste down south. That would mean even less pollution, and it would create jobs.
KI: Thank you for talking with us, Francis. We hope you’ll continue planting seeds for years to come!