The Debate on First Nations Education Funding: Mind the Gap (Working Paper 49)
Rosenbluth, Ellen Kachuck
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It is at long last becoming part of the public discourse that improving living conditions and opportunities for First Nations communities in Canada is a national imperative. It is also widely recognized that the education is critical to fostering a better future for First Nations people. Yet, for many First Nations youth, particularly those on reserve, completing even high school is well beyond reach. The graduation rate of First Nations people living on reserve was 35.3 per cent as recently as 2011 compared with 78 per cent for the population as a whole. At the same time, the First Nations population is young and growing fast - in First Nations communities 49 per cent of the population is under 24 years of age compared to 30 per cent of the general population. Despite some incremental improvements in education success rates for First Nations students in recent years, the education gap between First Nations and the rest of the country is increasing. The concerns expressed in the 2011 Auditor General report continue to hold weight: "In 2004, we noted that at existing rates, it would take 28 years for First Nations communities to reach the national average. More recent trends suggest that the time needed may still be longer.