A new protocol agreement will support collaboration to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal post-secondary students in British Columbia.
Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) president Tyrone McNeil and Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) chair Verna Billy-Minnabarriet, signed the protocol agreement on July 8 in Vancouver, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people.
“This protocol agreement builds on the strong relationships already in place between our government, FNESC and IAHLA,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “Our government is committed to working closely with these two organizations to ensure that First Nations students and communities are supported in the post-secondary education system in B.C.”
The protocol agreement formalizes the existing relationship between the Ministry, FNESC, and IAHLA. It also supports ongoing collaboration between all three parties and reinforces a commitment to Aboriginal post-secondary education in British Columbia.
“By working together, government and its partners are showing ongoing commitment to ensure the post-secondary system in the province is a place of inclusion and relevance for Aboriginal learners,” said Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad. “This builds on work our government is doing on a path toward reconciliation.”
The protocol agreement will also focus on the advancement of the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan which was developed in 2012 in collaboration with Aboriginal post-secondary partners including FNESC and IAHLA.
“Although progress has been made in advancing First Nations post-secondary education in B.C., we still have work to do to achieve the transformation envisioned in the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework,” said Tyrone McNeil, president of FNESC. “This protocol will provide a formal mechanism for us to jointly move forward on implementing our shared commitments and priorities to ensure that the needs of First Nations students and communities are met.”
“Aboriginal-controlled institutes are a critical part of B.C.’s post-secondary system, working within communities to support Aboriginal learners in achieving their education goals,” said Verna Billy-Minnabarriet, chair of IAHLA. “Through this protocol, we will see improved collaboration between Aboriginal communities and the provincial government, and in turn between our institutes and the public post-secondary system, leading to increased participation and success for Aboriginal learners.”
One of the goals set out in the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan is to increase the number of post-secondary credentials awarded to Aboriginal students by 75% by 2020-21. The number of credentials awarded to Aboriginal students in the post-secondary education system has increased by 23%, or 607 credentials, to 3,241 in 2013-14.
The Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan was designed to help Aboriginal learners succeed in an integrated, relevant and effective British Columbia post-secondary education system.
FNESC was formed in 1992 and represents First Nations education interests in British Columbia. IAHLA was incorporated as a society in 2002 and is an umbrella organization that represents approximately 39 Aboriginal post-secondary and adult institutes throughout the province. Both FNESC and IAHLA are recognized as the leading policy and advocacy bodies on First Nations post-secondary education in British Columbia.
Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan: http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/aboriginal/policy-framework.htm
First Nations Education Steering Committee: http://www.fnesc.ca/
Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association: http://iahla.ca/