By Peter Fassbender
Minister of Education
VICTORIA - In British Columbia, we are seeing increasing success for both on- and off-reserve Aboriginal students. More Aboriginal students are completing high school than ever before, as the six-year completion rate has climbed by almost 30 per cent (or 13.5 percentage points) from 45.9 per cent in 2002-03 to 59.4 per cent in 2012-13. While that is still below the completion rate for all B.C. students (83.6 per cent), we are seeing steady and significant improvement.
This is the result of sustained collaboration between the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada and B.C. First Nations. Over the past 15 years we've built stronger government-to-government relationships, signed multiple tripartite agreements, and designed strategies that are delivering real, tangible results for Aboriginal students.
The ministry's recently appointed superintendent of Aboriginal achievement has been working with Aboriginal organizations and school districts to promote new learning opportunities and address challenges. As well, 53 of the 60 school districts have entered into Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements, which support shared decision-making and specific goal-setting to meet the needs of Aboriginal students in communities throughout B.C.
We have a long way to go, but the relationships we've forged and the tripartite agreements we've built have us on the right on track.
The Government of Canada recently proposed new legislation for Aboriginal education. We are encouraged that Ottawa is taking such a serious look at this matter, and we agree with some of their proposed changes. At the same time, we want to work with them to ensure we don't lose what is working here in British Columbia.
Along with the First Nations Education Steering Committee and other aboriginal stakeholders, we want to be able to maintain and honour the agreements and relationships we already have in place. Working together, I'm confident that we can find a path forward, one that delivers better accountability, learning opportunities, and outcomes for all Aboriginal students, both on and off reserves.