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More Aboriginal students graduating in Prince George, numbers dropping in Fort St John and Nisga'a regions

Six-year completion rates released by Ministry of Education

Nusdeh Yoh.jpg
The Aboriginal Choice program in Prince George is called Nusdeh Yoh, which translates into "House of the Future."

School districts in Prince George are Fort Nelson are graduating more Aboriginal students than ever before, while Fort St John and the Nass Valley are falling behind. 

According to new numbers released by the Ministry of Education, there has been a rise in six-year-completion rates for Aboriginal students in B.C. In 2002-03, just 45.9 percent of Aboriginal students entering grade eight were graduating within six years. In 2012-13, that number rose to 59.4 per cent. The completion rate for all B.C. students was 83.6 per cent.

Not every school district is seeing success, however. District 60 serving Fort St John has seen a decline of thirty one percentage points with only 43.8 per cent of Aboriginal student graduating, while school district 92 in the Nass Valley has seen a decline from 52.1 per cent to 29.2.

"We've noticed that attendance has been down in the last two years," says school board chair Peter Leeson. "If you miss two or three days in one week, you are going to lag and fall behind." He says the district is speaking with parents and community members to try and solve the problem. "Most of our students travel by bus to the high school. In the wintertime, I'm thinking maybe parents are thinking about the safety of the students going up and down on these winter roads." Leeson also says the low number of students in the district- just over 500- makes it easier for percentages to fluctuate.

Meanwhile, other districts are seeing major success. In 20012-13, the Fort Nelson school district graduated 87.1 per cent of its Aboriginal students, up dramatically from 42.4 per cent a decade ago. Similarly, Prince George which used to graduate just 3 in 10 of its Aboriginal students has brought the numbers up to 56 per cent.

Victor Jim is the Aboriginal Education District Principal for Prince George, and he credits the success to a concerted effort and strategy over the past ten years. Prince George opened the province's first public Aboriginal choice school, and have been working with students who seem to be having trouble. "When students run into problems, we have Aboriginal [workers] in just about every school now, and we deal with the problems as quickly as we can, and put the students in a good space before the day's over so that they're able to return the next day." 

Jim acknowledges there is still work to be done,but remains optimistic. "I think, at least in our district, we would like to close the gap as quickly as we can. Hopefully we'll be about 60-65 per cent within four or five years."


Six-year completion rates for Aboriginal students in northern B.C. school districts
(source: B.C. Ministry of Education)

2003-2004


SD 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin) - 32.6%

SD 28 (Quesnel) - 53.2%

SD 49 (Central Coast) - 43.7%

SD 50 (Haida Gwaii) -  46.2%

SD 52 (Prince Rupert) - 53.4%

SD 54 (Bulkley Valley) - 56.0%

SD 57 (Prince George) - 31.0%

SD 59 (Peace River South) - 42.4%

SD 60 (Peace River North) - 74.8%

SD 81 (Fort Nelson) - 40.7%

SD 87 (Stikine) - 40.1%

SD 91 (Nechako Lakes) - 51.1%

SD 92 (Nisga'a) - 52.1%


2012-2013


SD 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin) - 44.2%

SD 28 (Quesnel) - 56.0%

SD 49 (Central Coast) - Msk*

SD 50 (Haida Gwaii) -  55.2%

SD 52 (Prince Rupert) - 56.0%

SD 54 (Bulkley Valley) - 56.4%

SD 57 (Prince George) - 56.0%

SD 59 (Peace River South) - 59.2%

SD 60 (Peace River North) - 43.8%

SD 81 (Fort Nelson) - 87.1%

SD 87 (Stikine) - 24.8%

SD 91 (Nechako Lakes) - 56.6%

SD 92 (Nisga'a) - 29.2%


*According to the Ministry, "when reporting data, the number or percentage must be suppressed (or "masked") if they are elements of a population that is one through nine."


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