Early childhood option added at University of Saskatchewan for future teachers

Officials said the ECE concentration is the result of a partnership between the University of Saskatchewan and the province's Ministry of Education. Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images

University of Saskatchewan (USask) students will soon have the opportunity to enter the teaching profession with a specialized knowledge and understanding to work with young children.

Starting in the 2019 fall semester, undergraduates taking the bachelor of education program can enroll in the new early childhood education (ECE) concentration as well as elementary/middle years or secondary options.

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Officials said graduates who choose ECE will have skills to teach children beginning in pre-kindergarten to Grade 3.

The ECE will feature eight new courses that are being developed as part of a partnership between the USask College of Education and the province’s Ministry of Education.

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“Through this collaboration with our government partners, our graduates will be able to make a meaningful impact at the very beginning of a child’s education journey,” USask President Peter Stoicheff said in a press release.

“Guided by our new University Plan, we must continually reinvigorate our programming to ensure we are responding to the critical needs here in Saskatchewan, across the country and around the world.”

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Through an evaluation of children entering kindergarten, the ministry said it found that, on a developmental continuum, 59 per cent of Saskatchewan kids display typical skills.

Officials said the evaluation highlighted the importance of providing rich literacy and numeracy environments to nurture physical, social-emotional and intellectual development in young children.

Another outcome of the partnership is to develop courses for an additional qualification certification in ECE, available for current teachers in the province.