More and more Aboriginal students are graduating from high school.
However, an audit released in November by Carol Bellringer, Auditor General, on the education of Aboriginal students in the B.C. public school system, found that Aboriginal students would benefit from a system-wide strategy to close the gap that still exists between them and non-Aboriginal students.
Ten years ago, the rate for Aboriginal students graduating was less than 50 per cent.
In comparison, more than 80 per cent of non-Aboriginal students graduated.
Last year, the rate of Aboriginal students graduating was 62 per cent.
However, there are still districts where the rate is less than 50 per cent.
Bellringer wrote in her comments that “the ministry must collaborate with boards of education, superintendents, and Aboriginal leaders and communities on a single, shared, system-wide strategy to close the gaps for Aboriginal students. The ministry needs to intervene when results are not being achieved.”
Bellringer found the ministry should work harder to provide non-racist learning environments where every child feels like they’re safe, that Aboriginal history, language and culture needs to be better valued, and that educators should expect all Aboriginal students to graduate.
Bellringer is “encouraged that the ministry is working with boards and Aboriginal partners on a number of new and ongoing initiatives to improve education outcomes for Aboriginal students. “We focused on Aboriginal students, but our recommendations should improve the public education system in ways that will benefit all students,” she said.
When asked for his thoughts on the audit, Kaleb Child, Director of Instruction, First Nations, responded, “the audit sets out a very clear pathway and further responsibility for the education system to increase success for all Aboriginal learners,” adding, “it will have a huge impact on Aboriginal achievement, as it sets a stronger mandate for the transformation necessary in service to learning.”
On the subject of funding in the B.C. public school system, Child noted that the greatest impact the public school system can make is “not to continue discussing challenges as an issue of funding, but by addressing how we learn, teach and work collectively to engage each individual learner. Also, with the new BC curriculum ‘Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives in the Classroom’ resource, as well as a vast amount of authentic Aboriginal focused learning tools, we have never been more equipped than we are now to bring learning to life for all learners.”