Closing the Gap in First Nations Education

NetNewsLedger on site at Chiefs of Ontario Education Symposium

OTTAWA – Closing the gap in the education outcomes of First Nations children living on reserve is critical to improving their quality of life and contributes to stronger communities for the shared success of all Canadians. The Government of Canada believes there should be nothing preventing an Indigenous child from having the same hopes and aspirations as any other child in Canada and the opportunities to achieve them.

“Working with First Nations to identify how we can innovate together to put education for First Nations on solid footing for the future is one of our top priorities.  Congratulations to the six First Nations schools joining the Martin Family Initiative’s Model School Literacy Project. This initiative will help unlock student success and opportunity as well as provide the tools for Indigenous students to become tomorrow’s leaders,” says Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P. Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs congratulated the students of the six First Nations schools that have joined the Martin Family Initiative’s Model School Literacy Project for the 2016-17 school year. They are:

• Standing Stone School, of the Oneida Nation of the Thames First Nation in Ontario,
• Maupeltueway Kin’matno’kuom, of the Membertou First Nation in Nova Scotia,
• Waywayseecappo Community School of the Waywayseecappo First Nation in Manitoba,
• Keethanow Elementary School, of the Stanley Mission Cree Nation, Lac La Ronge First Nation in Saskatchewan,
• Napi’s Playground Elementary School, of the Piikani Nation in Alberta,
• Ermineskin Elementary and Kindergarten Schools of the Ermineskin Tribe in Alberta

The Model School Literacy project undertook a rigorous evaluation that demonstrated the extraordinary gains in early literacy of the First Nations children in its two pilot schools. Between 2010 and 2015 the percentage of Grade three children who met or exceeded the standard in reading on the Ontario provincial assessment rose from 13% to 81%. Following the success demonstrated at Hillside School in Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation and Walpole Island Elementary School in Walpole Island First Nation from September 2009 to June 2014, Budget 2016 invested $30 million over five years to support the growth of the model school network to 20 schools by 2020.

This funding will support ongoing targeted training of teachers and education assistants from Kindergarten to Grade 3, as well as the schools’ administration. Six schools will be added every two years, beginning with the schools referred to today and including the two pilot project schools. The initiative uses an innovative approach, providing and making use of technology such as video conferencing in the schools, to connect the schools to each other and to outside resources, and to enhance teaching and learning in First Nations communities without the barrier of travel costs.

Quick Facts

  • A growing body of research shows that early literacy is key to student success, with students who read and write well by grade 3 being most likely to do well in school and graduate.
  • The Martin Family Initiative’s Model School Literacy Project is bringing together First Nations communities and schools, organizations and governments to provide inclusive support for Indigenous students with a focus on developing these fundamental skills for kindergarten to grade 3 students.
  • The Initiative provides classroom resources, professional development and support for primary and language teachers about the most effective ways to teach reading and writing, and stresses the importance of developing culturally-relevant curriculum.

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