Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education: Statement to the Legislative Assembly on Ontario’s Aboriginal Education Investment

by NationTalk on April 10, 2007716 Views

Ontario’s Aboriginal Education Investment Reaching Every Student

April 10, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Last month, the Ontario government announced our education investment for 2007-08, which will be a record of $18.3 billion — an increase of $781 million over last year.

Since 2002-03, funding has increased by $3.5 billion — the equivalent of more than $2,000 per student.

And we’re seeing the results — class sizes are smaller, student achievement is on the rise and more students are graduating.As we work towards improving these results, it’s important that we strive to ensure we are doing the best for all of our students.

So if we’re going to reach every student, we need to continue to improve opportunities for our First Nation, Métis and Inuit students.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce that this year we’re introducing a new grant as part of our overall education funding.

This new grant — the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Supplement — is expected to provide northern school boards with more than $5 million in 2007-08 to support Aboriginal students in our publicly funded schools.

The grant will provide more than $10.5 million to school boards provincewide.

The new supplement is in addition to $12.7 million invested in 2007 to support the implementation of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework.

The grant offers boards funding to support programs that help Aboriginal students.

It will help increase funding for Native Languages programs offered in any of the seven Native Languages recognized in the Ontario curriculum.

And, the investment will provide more funding to help boards offer any of the Native Studies courses available in the Ontario curriculum.

Courses like these enable Aboriginal students to reconnect with their cultures and histories, and also provide opportunities for all students to learn more about Aboriginal people.

If we want to support achievement among Aboriginal students, it’s essential that they feel welcome and engaged in school, and that they see themselves reflected and appreciated in the curriculum and school community.

It has been an exciting few months for Aboriginal education in this province.

In January, we announced our Aboriginal Education Strategy with the launch of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework. It will be the foundation for delivering quality education to aboriginal students who attend provincially funded schools in Ontario.

It sets out strategies for the ministry, school boards and schools – strategies like putting more Aboriginal staff in schools and encouraging teaching strategies that are appropriate to Aboriginal learners.

In November, we are holding a conference that will give educators a chance to come together and discuss how we can implement the framework and better support Aboriginal students.

Our Six Ways website, which provides information about new programs in Ontario’s high schools, is now available in five Aboriginal languages — Algonquin, Ojibwe, Oji-Cree, Mohawk, and Swampy Cree.

And, to further enhance support for our Aboriginal students, the newly created Aboriginal Education Office at the Ministry of Education is now fully staffed – half of which consists of Aboriginal educators in the field.

Our Aboriginal Education Strategy gives us the impetus to build upon this energy and carry it across the province to ensure that we are recognizing and meeting the needs of our First Nation, Métis and Inuit students – whether they are living in remote areas or in urban centres.

By working with Aboriginal families, parents and communities, we will reach every student.

And, we will enable our First Nation, Métis and Inuit students to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to complete their education and move on to future successes.

Thank you.

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