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Manitoba trails in learning: data

Province behind national average in most classes

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Manitobans trail the Canadian average in almost every key education category.

Data from the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) released Wednesday by Statistics Canada show Manitobans over the age of 25 have attained lower levels of education than the average Canadian.

Aboriginal education lags behind non-natives

Younger aboriginals are more educated than their elders but still trail non-aboriginal Canadians when it comes to post-secondary education, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

The latest release of the 2011 National Household Survey found nearly half of aboriginal Canadians between 25 and 64 have some post-secondary education, but that compares to two-thirds of non-aboriginal Canadians. The biggest difference is in university graduates.

While about one in five aboriginals and non-aboriginals in that age group had a college diploma, fewer than one in 10 aboriginals had a university degree compared to more than one in four non-aboriginal Canadians.

In Manitoba, slightly more than one-third of aboriginals 25 to 64 have some post-secondary education, while nearly two thirds of non-aboriginals do. Among First Nations people in Manitoba, those with a post-secondary education are fewer than one in four.

"The gap is not surprising," said James Wilson, Manitoba Treaty Commissioner and an expert in aboriginal education. "It's a reminder we've got a long way to go and we better get started because it's not going to change itself."

Wilson is among those advocating for major strengthening to aboriginal education, particularly on reserve, with more funding per student, First Nations school boards that can provide curriculum sharing, set standards for teacher qualifications and a minimum number of teaching days.

The 2011 National Household Survey shows 57.4 per cent of First Nations people in Manitoba between 20 and 24 have not finished high school, compared to just 10.2 per cent of non-aboriginal Manitobans in that age group.

The survey did show younger aboriginals, particularly women, are more educated than their elders. Off-reserve First Nations people and non-status Indians were also showing higher educational attainment than those on reserve.

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The NHS found 53.6 per cent of Manitobans aged 25 or over have some form of post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree, compared to 59.6 per cent of all Canadians.

Among that same age group, 17.9 per cent of us have graduated from college, compared to 19.6 per cent nationally, and for those with university degrees, 20.4 per cent of Manitobans 25 or older have at least one degree compared to 23.3 per cent of all Canadians. In trades, we trail 10.7 per cent to 12 per cent nationally.

The province also produces fewer high school grads, with 21.4 per cent of Manitobans having not even graduated from high school, compared to 17.3 per cent nationally.

Education Minister Nancy Allan referred all comment to Advanced Education Minister Erin Selby, who said through an aide university and college participation among all Manitobans is up 44 per cent since the 1999-2000 school year, when the NDP took office.

University participation among all Manitobans is up "from 16.8 per cent to 26 per cent (1990 to 2011)... college participation rates have also been slowly and consistently increasing since 1990, rising from 3.8 per cent to seven per cent in 2011," Selby said in the statement, which did not address the specific Statistic Canada data released Wednesday.

Tory advanced education critic Stu Briese (Agassiz) said the data show, "We're a long ways behind everyone else. After 14 years of NDP government, why aren't our numbers any better than that?"

There are clear indicators what our young people are choosing to do with their lives.

Graduating health professionals are way, way above the national average -- in universities (13.9 per cent of graduates to 10.9 per cent nationally); colleges (22.1 per cent of grads, compared to 17.6 per cent across Canada); and the trades (15.1 per cent to 10.3 per cent).

In the 1990s, fewer Manitoba students were enrolled in health care, because there weren't enough jobs, said Lori Lamont, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's vice-president of interprofessional practice and chief nursing officer.

"We (now) have an aging workforce in the health care sector. The average age of a nurse in Manitoba is 47," and many retire at 55 because of the physical strain and late shifts, Lamont said.

In the trades, 19.5 per cent of Manitoba grads are mechanics and repair technicians, our top field; the national average is 17.7 per cent.

Our top college program is some form of business, management and marketing: 28.2 per cent, compared to 27.7 per cent across Canada.

And as for university grads, a whopping 19.3 per cent of Manitobans get a degree in education, well above the national average of 14.3 per cent.

Manitoba Teachers' Society president Paul Olson said Wednesday, "We might be cranking out too many grads," with five public universities having faculties of education, but MTS hasn't analyzed that yet.

"It's probably a whole lot more about how many we keep" working in schools here, how many have retired, and the effects of having lost 700 teaching jobs during the Filmon funding cuts of the 1990s, Olson said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 27, 2013 A6

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