The new money represents a doubling in funding for the now-$1.8-million Intensive Newcomer Support Grant, which provides tailored support for students who may have low literacy or whose schooling was disrupted.
“This investment will support schools and school divisions in responding to the sharp increase in newcomers who have fled war-affected countries and are enrolling in Manitoba schools,” Education and Early Childhood Learning minister Wayne Ewasko explains.
“We want all students to succeed no matter where they live, their cultural background, or their own personal circumstance.”
Sandra Herbst, the superintendent and CEO for the River East-Transcona School Division (RETSD), says the money is sorely needed.
“Since the beginning of August, RETSD has welcomed 512 newcomers into our schools,” she told an assembled crowd at Collège Miles Macdonell Collegiate Monday morning.
“That’s equal to the total number from last year. Of those 512 students, 246 are from Ukraine.”
Herbst told the story of one of those students – a young boy in Grade 9 named Michael who fled Ukraine along with his mother.
“He arrived here with only a few books and mementos from his grandmother,” Herbst explained.
“Michael and his mother met with one of our newcomer reception facilitators – a friendly face to support them as they joined RETSD.”
Herbst says the division quickly provided him with hearing aids and a FM transmitter to address his lack of hearing ability.
Co-chair of the Newcomer Education Coalition Kathleen Vyrauen says that’s the kind of work the program does each and every day.
“This grant has been around for a long time. To see now that more money is being invested into it is an absolute positive.”
“We’ve seen homework clubs, translation and interpretation services come from this – supports for newcomer students that really mean your future and ensuring you can get the best out of your education here in Manitoba is at the forefront.”
“We know that Manitoba is a welcoming province and definitely a destination for newcomers, so we will undoubtedly have some more work to do as well,” Ewasko says.
Applications for the program continue to be accepted throughout the fall.
You can find more information on the Intensive Newcomer Support Grant on the government’s website.