Alberta education minister directs school boards to review curriculum after rebuke of 'offensive' test

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen is directing the province’s teachers to re-evaluate their curriculum after a test related to Indigenous history got swift rebuke last week.

Photo of online exam that asks students about 'positive effect' of residential schools posted to social media

David Eggen said he's directed school boards to check program content for truth and accuracy. (CBC)

Alberta Education Minister David Eggen is directing the province's teachers to re-evaluate their curriculum after a test related to Indigenous history was highly criticized last week.

"I've instructed all my school boards to look at what they're teaching, what they're using, and take a good hard second look," Eggen said Saturday.

The minister said he has told school boards to review all instructional materials related to residential schools and ask whether the content is appropriate and true.

Eggen made the comments after giving a speech at a conference at Grant MacEwan University, where teachers were learning about coding curriculum.

Eggen said he was sorry but grateful that a student from a St. Paul, Alta., program exposed the test on social media last week, alerting the government to its offensive nature.

"It was difficult, it was painful, I was a bit angry," he said. "It underlines the absolute importance of building new curriculum."

The multiple choice social studies test asked students to check off what they believed to be a "positive effect" of residential schools on Indigenous students. Answers included "children became civilized" and "children were taught manners."

Eggen said Thursday he was "appalled to see such hurtful and offensive material given to an Alberta student."

The St. Paul Education Regional Division and the Alberta Distance Learning Centre (ADLC), responsible for providing the material, apologized.

Eggen said he has told the school districts to redouble their efforts in re-evaluating material "for us to be responsible and for us to be teaching both history and who we are as a culture in an honest and an equitable way."

Alberta schools are already undergoing a curriculum review. Eggen said he's also asked school boards to ensure the new material aligns with recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that aims to improve content on Indigenous history and culture.