Enhancement agreement extended five more years; First Nations students continue showing academic success in Nanaimo district
The growing academic success of First Nations students in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district will be celebrated on Dec. 1, with the signing of the district's third five-year Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement.
The agreement, first signed in 2000, sees the district, local native bands and the government work together to develop processes to close the gap in success rates between aboriginal and other students.
According to results released from the Ministry of Education earlier this month, 52% of aboriginal students in the district successfully graduated from Grade 12 in 2010-11 within six years of entering Grade 8, up from 44% in 2009-10.
"We're certainly making inroads but it will still take a lot of time and effort to see even more success for aboriginal students in Nanaimo-Ladysmith," said Laura Tait, who will take over the position of principal of aboriginal education in the district from the retiring Stella Bates in the new year.
With more than 2,000 aboriginal students in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, the district signed its first fiveyear enhancement agreement in 2000 with the Snuneymuxw First Nation, Stz'uminus First Nation, Snaw-Naw-As First Nation, Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre and Mid-Island Métis Nation.
As part of the agreement, the district receives an extra $1,041 for each full-time aboriginal student enrolled which is used for a variety of programs and initiatives to help aboriginal students improve academically and aspire to achieve their Dogwood diplomas.
Tait said one of the focuses of the third enhancement agreement is to increase the knowledge of local aboriginal culture and history among all the district's teachers and other staff that can be shared with their students.
She said the initiative will take the form of workshops for teachers and other district staff that will likely be held during Pro-D days throughout the school year.
"The goal if to have this knowledge as part of each school's day-to-day curriculum," Tait said.
"It should be said a lot of the issues and challenges facing our native students are not just local, but are societal in nature and are Canada-wide."
The signing of the enhancement agreement will be held at Beban Park, Dec. 1, at 10 a.m.