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Posted: January 3, 2019

Indigenous high school completion rate highest ever

Indigenous students in B.C. are completing secondary school at the highest rate in history with increased supports and an improved, modern curriculum that accurately reflects the history of Indigenous peoples in British Columbia, the Ministry of Education reported in December.

“For too long, Indigenous students in B.C. were held back by a school system that didn’t reflect their history, honour their communities or meet their needs,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “It’s inspiring to see how quickly Indigenous students respond when we begin to bring down barriers to their success. Their achievements are an important reminder of why we can’t rest until our schools support every student, no matter where they live.”

In the 2017-18 school year, the Indigenous student six-year completion rate increased by four per cent over the previous year. This is the largest one-year increase since 2010-11, with 70% of Indigenous students completing secondary school, and an eight per cent improvement over the last four years.

For Indigenous children in the continuing custody of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, completion rates in the 2017-18 school year are 58% – an eight per cent increase over the year before and an 18% increase since 2013-14.

“We are encouraged by this recent increase to the graduation rate and expect that under our new agreement between First Nations Education Steering Committee, Canada and B.C., we will see further improvements – particularly for status on-reserve students and children in care,” said Tyrone McNeil, president, First Nations Education Steering Committee.

The Ministry of Education is actively implementing the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to ensure K-12 students learn Indigenous perspectives in all grades and subjects, from math to science to literature. Government is also working in partnership with the First Nations Education Steering Committee to develop provincial Indigenous resources, the ministry stated in a media release.

The Government of B.C. recognizes that education is a key part of reconciliation and that it is critical to integrate Indigenous knowledge, traditions and languages into classrooms throughout the province.

There are 17 First Nations languages with approved curriculum, with six more in development.

The ministry is also working to recruit more Indigenous teachers by investing in more spaces at post-secondary institutions for Indigenous education and has invested $400,000 toward Indigenous teacher-training curriculum development and new seats at B.C. universities in the past year.

The six-year completion rate calculates the number of students who complete secondary school within six years from the first time they enrol in Grade 8 and is a key performance measurement for student success.

In 2017-18, there were 70,487 students who self-identified as Indigenous in B.C. public and independent schools. This accounts for 11% of the school population.

B.C. invests about $74 million annually in targeted funding to support Indigenous learners.

The provincial six-year completion rate for B.C. residents in public schools increased by 1.2%, to 88.5% in 2017-18.

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