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This article was published 6/4/2016 (2240 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There is a shortage of indigenous teachers in Manitoba. This is an issue all political parties in the election campaign should address.
The Indigenous Teacher Education Coalition asserts employing more indigenous teachers is central to the push to improve academic outcomes for Manitoba’s indigenous students.
The need for more indigenous teachers was identified in the Manitoba auditor general’s 2016 report Improving Educational Outcomes for Kindergarten to Grade 12 Aboriginal Students and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, which focused on the need for an increase in indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in public schools in order to eliminate the educational gap between indigenous and non-indigenous students.
A 2013 survey of aboriginal teachers found a total of 14,539 were employed in provincial schools in Manitoba, and 1,313 (nine per cent) self-identify as having indigenous ancestry. The auditor general’s report indicates the gap between the percentage of teachers and students who self-identify as having indigenous ancestry has grown in Manitoba from 2006 to 2013.
The coalition has developed a five-point plan to increase the number of indigenous bachelor of education graduates. The next provincial government should:
1. Set a goal of graduating 200 indigenous bachelor of education students per year for the next 10 years in order that the teachers working in schools better reflect the growing indigenous student population. (Presently, some 50 to 75 graduate in Manitoba each year.) The province should also make the commitment to provide an annual report to update the public on progress made regarding the implementation of this initiative.
2. Establish an indigenous teacher education task force to develop a five-year action plan to increase the number of indigenous bachelor of education graduates in the province of Manitoba. The plan should be ready by Dec. 31.
3. Establish internship programs for indigenous high school students who may be interested in becoming teachers. Elements of this program could include after-school and summer jobs working with children, job shadowing and mentorships with practising teachers and university-exposure initiatives.
4. Establish stepping-stone programs to bachelor of education programs with colleges and community-based training programs. These programs could provide training and employment opportunities for indigenous parents in their children’s schools as teacher assistants, parent/child centre workers and early childhood educators. Over the years, this has been a proven strategy to expand the level of interest and required preparation for individuals to enter into post-secondary education.
5. Work with local school divisions to set benchmarks for developing a teacher workforce that reflects the indigenous student population of the province or school district, rather than the equity benchmark of the overall population of the province or school district.
No one stakeholder can meet the challenge of increasing the number of indigenous bachelor of education graduates in the province. The education faculties will need to work with community partners to increase the pool of indigenous people interested in becoming teachers through internship and laddering programs. Local school divisions will need to work with the faculties to help indigenous graduates find jobs. A new approach to employment equity will require the involvement of teacher unions.
The coalition is calling upon the Manitoba political party leaders to commit during this election campaign to increase the number of indigenous teachers. Addressing the shortage of indigenous teachers is central to eliminating the educational gap between indigenous and non-indigenous students in our province.
Kathy Mallett was the first indigenous woman elected as a school trustee in Winnipeg and is a recipient of the Order of Manitoba for her leadership work in the indigenous community.