School District No. 46 (SD46) is looking into the possibility of an international exchange with students from Korea.
In the superintendent’s report at the Dec. 11 board meeting, an item regarding international education was discussed.
Assistant superintendent Greg Kitchen said nothing has been finalized yet, and SD46 is still in the exploration stages, looking into an exchange that could see several Korean students in grades 6 and 7 come to the Sunshine Coast for a one- to two-month period.
The exchange is a way to enhance the promotion of SD46 as a destination for international education.
“We are in contact with a school on Vancouver Island that has been very successful with this exchange group,” Kitchen said. “This could be a very valuable cultural exchange between all the students. This particular exchange group likes coming into smaller communities, and our community fits a lot of what they are looking for.
Trustee Lori Dixon was the lone trustee to express concerns with the idea and was the only trustee to vote against the district moving forward with its exploration.
Dixon was concerned by the age of the potential exchange students and their possible inability to assimilate well into a different culture.
“Children at that age need a lot of nurturing and need to be in a nurturing environment, not somewhere unfamiliar and far away from home,” Dixon said. “I’m also wondering what the benefits could be to the students as well as our students.”
Kitchen responded by saying that the program is well supported by the families in Korea and that the cultural opportunities were endless.
“From my understanding, the parents are fully supportive of this program. The children are not forced into doing anything,” he said. “The students coming to the community would also live in a dorm-like setting and be fully supported by adults who would accompany them on the exchange. The students would be in a school setting for a short period of time each day.
“As for cultural aspects, I see many benefits for all the students. It’s a chance to make the world a bit smaller and for each side to learn a bit more about each other.”
Kitchen provided trustees with a brief overview of the new Ministry of Education ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) bullying prevention and intervention strategy at the Dec. 11 meeting.
ERASE builds on the current programs already in place that address issues of bullying, risks and threats. The intent is to prevent, identify and stop harmful behaviours by children and adults and to ensure that there are consistent policies and practices across the province. School districts have been asked by the Ministry to work with community partners to achieve these goals. One of the new initiatives out of the Ministry is a new ERASE bullying website (www.erasebullying.ca), which contains a reporting tool for youth to report bullying, information for parents on bullying, information on creating safe schools, policies on bullying and other information.
The Ministry has also directed every elementary school principal, a teacher or counsellor and a three-person district team to participate in a one-day training session of preventing bullying. Secondary school teams will participate in a two-day training session along with community partners (police, mental health, etc.) on school-based violence prevention and threat/risk assessment.
Training sessions will take place in early 2013.