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Yorkton Automotive Program Successful

Bob Lane

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE/JULY 1992      v21 n04 p15  
With the success of the latest Motor Vehicle Mechanical Repair (MVMR) Program in Yorkton, off campus training programs are proving once again to be very successful in improving the post-secondary education levels among Saskatchewan's aboriginal communities.

According to Dennis Esperance, Education Director with the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, the strategy of bringing training geographically closer to the various native communities addresses a number of problems common to the more traditional approach of having the students relocate for training.

"In 1982, a study showed that few native students were coming out of the post secondary system," he explains. "There were low numbers of grads due to the significant culture shock, negative peer group pressure, and the difficulty of making the transition to a larger city from a smaller community."

MVMR student Terry Musqua in the automotive shop
MVMR student Terry Musqua in the automotive shop
SIIT Director of Education Dennis Esperance
SIIT Director of Education Dennis Esperance

Esperance claims that off-campus programs like the MVMR program now being offered through SIAST Palliser Campus and the Yorkton Tribal Administration (YTA) have done much to improve training levels. "Recent figures show that graduation rates at programs offered within the student's home environment can be very high," says Esperance.

Bob Goehr, Instructor for the Yorkton MVMR Program, couldn't agree more. He's been teaching an enthusiastic group of nine native students since September and their progress has been very steady. "This group is exceptionally motivated there's no reason why we couldn't see at least eight students graduating this summer."

Although many factors combine to determine the overall success of a program, Goehr attributes much of the success to the geographic location of the program, and also to some refinements to the curriculum. "We lengthened the course to 40 weeks from 33, and reduced some of the theory in favour of more "hands-on" practice. The students are responding well to the changes."

The Yorkton Tribal Administration is also pleased with the progress of the MVMR program. "We see the program as very successful, says Don Kondrat, YTA Director of Education. "Our students are learning very useful skills that will help our community."

Kondrat attributes the program success to the efforts of the instructor and students, but points out that the strong working relationship that has developed among the various educational partners has helped considerably. Our relationships with SIIT and Palliser Campus are very positive. I'm pleased to say we will be working with both groups to offer more programs in the future," he announced.

"In fact, MVMR training is still seen as a high priority training need for our local community, and we have many individuals interested in taking part, so we plan to run the program again next year."