Thunder Bay

Give First Nations responsibility for their education, report says

A community driven education model with local decision-making powers is being hailed as the way forward for First Nations education, according to a report released today.
Northern Policy Institute has released a report on First Nations Education that says Canada needs to put a system in place that better reflects the learning priorities and needs of First Nations communities. (CBC)

A community driven education model with local decision-making powers is being hailed as the way forward for First Nations education, according to a report released today.

The authors of the most recent Northern Policy Institute report, say a Community Schools model will improve the education and life chances of First Nation children and youth.

"Increased capital funding, as was proposed in Bill C-33 [First Nations Education Act], may have brought modest short-term gains to on-reserve schooling, but replacing one bureaucracy with another rarely improves the state of education or quality of learning," said author Paul W. Bennett.
Paul Bennett is one of the authors of a recent Northern Policy Institute report on First Nations education. (Supplied)

"A community school-based approach that shifts control of decision-making to local First Nations, stands a far better chance of making a difference and improving the achievement of all First Nations children and youth.”

Building 'sustainable school communities'

The report offers seven major recommendations to improve First Nation school conditions and, ultimately, student success rates, a news release from the institute stated.

A key recommendation is to embrace promising practices, such as those enabling First Nations to develop their own educational programs based on local cultural traditions, languages, ways of learning and knowledge systems.
Jonathan Anuik, a co-author of the report, says community school-based renewal, rather than bureaucratic reform, will build sustainable First Nation school communities. (Supplied)

The importance of engaging parents, family and community in local governing boards is also emphasized in the report, the institute stated.  The report also calls for a review of the adequacy of the proposed implementation funding for First Nation schools, which only provided $63,000 annually to each First Nation in Canada.

"Evidence proves that community school-based renewal, rather than bureaucratic reform, will build sustainable school communities, unlock the First Nations learning spirit at school and truly engage children and youth at schools, on and off First Nations reserves,” author Jonathan Anuik said.

Northern Policy Institute is a not-for-profit organization with offices in Thunder Bay and Sudbury. Its founding funder is Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.

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