First Nations from across Canada are leading a review of federal post-secondary education programming. Technical teams of students, directors of education, post-secondary coordinators, members of the Chiefs Committee on Education, National Indian Education Council and representatives from First Nation education institutions are preparing recommendations to ensure improved access to post-secondary education and improved supports required for student success for First Nations. This work is in response to an announcement made in the 2017 federal budget.
Budget 2017 announced the Government of Canada will undertake a comprehensive and collaborative review with Indigenous partners of all current federal programs that support Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education. The purpose of the review is to ensure that these programs meet the needs of individual students while supporting attendance at, and completion of, a post-secondary degree or credential.
Two technical tables have been established to date – one to address the needs of First Nation students, the second to address the needs of First Nation education institutions. The technical table of students is analyzing current post-secondary programs, including the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, to identify shortcomings and make recommendations for a new approach to support First Nations students and institutions. Representatives from First Nation education institutions have identified that the Post-Secondary Partnership Program failed to adequately address the needs of First Nations institutes and have identified key principles to inform the review process and its recommendations.
The independent facilitators leading the review process are looking for input on current challenges, needs and goals from the perspectives of First Nation students and First Nation education institutions.
The First Nations Directors of Education National Forum is an event that brings together over 800 First Nations directors of education, educators, administrator government officials, leaders, and those actively engaged in the First Nations educational cross Canada. The Forum provides a unique opportunity for participants to gather to share perspectives, to engage in critical dialogue, and to network with each other to build positive and constructive relationships.
To provide specialist advice regarding various aspects of regional First Nations education, five joint national Task Teams were established, including: Funding Mechanisms, Statutory Funding Framework, Early Childhood Education, Post-Secondary Education, Measurement and Mutual Accountability. In 2017 two more national Task Teams will be added to focus on Infrastructure and the unique needs of Northern and Remote Communities.
Each Task Team is incorporating regional First Nations frames of reference in all discussion in order that all developments are steeped in and build on existing regional systems that honour the diversity and autonomy of First Nations across Canada.
The Joint Task Teams focus on the following areas and are mandated by Operational Terms:
Budget 2017 announced an additional $90 Million over two years, and that: “The Government will also undertake a comprehensive and collaborative review with Indigenous partners of all federal programs that support Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education.”
In July 2017 the Chiefs in Assembly passed Resolution 14/2017 directing the Chiefs Committee on Education to lead the first Nations portion of the federal post-secondary review.
In November 2017 the work of the Post-Secondary Education Task Team moved to the First Nations Post-Secondary Education Federal Review.
The Joint Task Teams meet regularly to develop recommendations for education reform. From there recommendations are moved through the joint process for collaboration.