Indigenous students are completing secondary school here and around the province more than ever before.
A Dec. 11 news release from the Ministry of Education shows more students complete school now in part due to increased supports and a curriculum that has evolved.
“For too long, Indigenous students in B.C. were held back by a school system that didn’t reflect their history, honour their communities or meet their needs,” Minister of Education Rob Fleming said in the news release.
The data show in the last school year in B.C., the six-year completion rate increased by 4 per cent over the previous year, making it the largest one-year increase since 2010-11. This translates into 70 per cent of Indigenous students completing secondary school, and an 8 per cent increase over the last four years.
The situation in Campbell River is similar, though the school district’s principal of Indigenous education Greg Johnson cautions that at the local level the numbers can fluctuate more. In the case of this year, the numbers went up but at 68 per cent are a couple of points behind the provincial figure. The year before, he adds, the rate was a couple of points higher.
“The record is improving and it mirrors the province,” he said.
Johnson also points out that while the six-year figure is one the Ministry commonly uses, the percentage for those who complete within five years is higher in Campbell River.
“We are increasing the size of our grad classes,” he said.
Johnson cautions that year-to-year completion rates do not tell the whole story. The important thing is progress over time, especially considering how the education system has changed. Locally, the district has an advisory council that includes members from local bands but also representatives for urban First Nations people and Metis from the North Island.
The curriculum too has evolved, with more opportunities to incorporate First Nations culture.
“I see schools focusing on our Indigenous students way more,” he said.