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Students in class at Egg Lake in northern Manitoba.

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Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt should know the graduation rates of First Nations schools (Tools for the trades, Oct. 18). They are his constitutional responsibility. His government refuses to adequately fund First Nations schools. The result is poor graduation rates, high teacher turnover and difficulties in accessing professional development and specialist support.

These schools are not part of any regional, provincial, national or international assessments. It is difficult to improve when you do not have a baseline.

It is also difficult, if not impossible, for First Nations schools to provide the provincial curricula when they do not receive the provincial level of funding. Additional funding flows only when a First Nations school turns itself into a provincial school.

Canada should be ashamed by the current state of First Nations education. Let's call it for what it is -- apartheid education.

RON PHILLIPS

Nipissing University

North Bay, Ont.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 19, 2013 A16

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