Aboriginal education enhancement agreement a first

  • Feb. 20, 2012 11:00 a.m.

By Karyn Prest–“It’s the first of its kind in the history of the school board”, said Principal of Aboriginal Education, Joanne Yovanovich. The enhancement agreement applies to Aboriginal education in public schools on-island and will be signed in Skidegate on Wednesday (Feb. 22) and in Old Massett on Thursday (Feb. 23).The agreement between the Skidegate Band Council, Old Massett Village Council and the province’s Ministry of Education has been in the works for 11 years and will act as a formal template for teachers and school board staff.”We don’t foresee kids just getting there (graduation), we hope they are excelling”, said Ms Yovanovich. There won’t be much change visible right away because “this agreement is work that we (school district) are already doing” she said.The two main goals in the agreement are: “that students develop a strong sense of belonging to their learning environment and community” and to “improve grade transition rates and school completion rates, with enhanced academic performance in key meaningful high school subjects (English, math, science, social studies). The school board believes “students will benefit from a strong connection to their school and that teachers will benefit from an increased awareness of Haida traditional knowledge and language, utilizing strategies ranging from Culturally Responsible Education to aboriginally oriented Early Childhood Education programming”.Ms Yovanovich said the process took so long because the document had to be accepted by both band councils and the ministry. “We often had to look back in time to see where we have been in terms of education to inform us where we want to go”, she said. Many people have collaborated over the years to make this possible; trustees, elders, band councillors from Skidegate and Old Massett, education administrators, Council of the Haida Nation reps, superintendents, principals and vice principals, the president of the Haida Gwaii Teachers’ Association, and CUPE members. Ms Yovanovich said “we hope that people will attend the signing events in each community”. Signing of the Enhancement Agreement will take place at in Skidegate at Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary School at 1:15 pm on Feb. 22 and in Old Massett at the Village Council Hall at 1:15 pm on Feb 23.

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