District principal of Indigenous education Greg Johnson (right), educators and mentors talk about work on preserving local indigenous language to the board of education at meeting earlier this year. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

Indigenous students grad rates on the rise

Stats show last year with the largest one-year increase since 2010-11

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 to reflect Indigenous history in B.C.

“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. “It’s inspiring to see how quickly Indigenous students respond when we begin to bring down barriers to their success. Their achievements are an important reminder of why we can’t rest until our schools support every student, no matter where they live.”

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.

Campbell River school district’s principal of Indigenous education Greg Johnson cautions that at the local level the numbers can fluctuate more, but they generally follow the overall

“The record is improving and it mirrors the province,” he said. “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.

RELATED STORY: All Campbell River school district leads the way with indigenous training for staff

The curriculum too has evolved, with more opportunities to incorporate First Nations culture into the classroom.

“I see schools focusing on our Indigenous students way more,” he said.

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