Graduation rates on the rise in Saskatchewan
- EFN Staff | September 29, 2017
Rates amongst Indigenous students see small increase
Kaleigh Starblanket from Starblanket First Nation is currently studying to become a veterinarian at the University of Regina. The 18-year-old student recently graduated Bert Fox Community High School in Fort Qu’Appelle with a graduating class of 40 – half of her classmates were Indigenous students. She is one of many students who are a part of the increase of graduation rates in Saskatchewan.
“I think that’s awesome…it makes me really happy that our people and students are starting to see that,” she said. “I hope that we can move forward that we faced as a people.”
According to new data from the 2016-17 school year, the graduation rate increased to 76.5 % and the rate for Indigenous students increased to 43.2 per cent in 2016-17 – a 1.3% increase from 2015-16 school year.
The announcement was made recently at the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) annual Fall Members Council held in Saskatoon.
“We are very pleased to see that more students are graduating,” Minister of Education Bronwyn Eyre said in a media release. “Graduation is a vital step toward future success, which is why we have made it a priority to see more students graduating. Thank you to all the teachers and staff in our school divisions for the work you have done to help our students achieve this goal.”
Maureen Johns the Director of Education for the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC) said it’s always good when the targets are going in the right direction in response to the graduation rate increase.
“An increase is better than staying the same or a decrease,” Johns said. “But the percentage increase is so small despite 20 to 30 years of Indigenous and First Nations, Metis and Inuit education advances, it’s a bit shocking that the rate of improvement isn’t more than what it is.”
In Saskatchewan the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT), which is run by the Ministry of Education, has graduation targets by using a strategic plan where goals and targets are set. The PLT have set targets for graduation for the year 2020 where they want the provincial graduation rate to be at 85% rate with a 3-year graduation, a 90% rate with a 5-year graduation. Johns said for Indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan, the same group set the target for First Nations and Metis is lower than the provincial.
“By June 2020, the province says their target for First Nations, Metis and Inuit graduation is 65% over three years and 75% over five years,” said Johns. “That means that if there [are] 100 students in Saskatchewan graduating in 2020, the province is okay with 15 of those not being successful but they are okay with 35 students of First Nations and Metis not graduating.”
Johns said that’s the biggest concern is the lower expectations of First Nations students because lower expectations of graduation or success rate will lead to self-fulfilling prophecy.
“The students will only achieve to a lower maximum,” she said. “It’s a huge concern.”
Starblanket encourages all Indigenous students in the province to keep persevering to finish school and to push through the negative stereotypes of Indigenous peoples.
“Push through the hardships that we face as Indigenous people,” she said. “Break down the barriers…it starts with getting an education and working together [to] try make our nation stronger.”
According to the media release, the provincial extended five-year graduation rate is 84 per cent overall and 59.8 per cent for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students.