Underfunding Of Indigenous Education In Canada
The educational system of the First Nations is characterized by underfunding, which creates a significant gap between the indigenous people and non-indigenous people of Canada. Funding indigenous people’s education will lead to improved living standards and a larger labor market for the Canadian government, which leads to a higher GDP and a better economy.
The history of the education of indigenous people in Canada dates back to colonization when France colonized Canada. Education given to small groups of boys was intended to make these children transform the belief system within communities (Gordon & White, 2014). Education systems later set up for the indigenous people included community-based schooling and boarding schools which were underfunded and thus unsuccessful. Education funding for indigenous people has always been intended to assimilate the First Nations to the European way of life.
The residential school system that grew out of the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 was a cultural genocide from 1883 to 1996. Indigenous families in Canada were forced to send their children to the church-run school established by the Canadian government to assimilate the indigenous people (Austen, 2021). These schools were overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed. Indigenous children faced physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at the residential schools.
First nation schools are underfunded, with few teachers who speak the indigenous languages. The education system does not respect the diverse cultures of indigenous people. First Nation schools often lack basic materials, where educational materials on indigenous peoples are rare (United Nations, 2021). High drop-out rates of indigenous children are caused by poverty and discrimination. Access to quality education is limited to indigenous people, where indigenous girls have high drop-out rates because of unfriendly school environments, gender-based violence, and sexual violence.
Indigenous people have always had lower educational attainment than non-indigenous people in Canada. The low education attainment levels are linked to colonialism, ethnicity, socioeconomic factors, and parental education attainment (Gordon & White, 2014). First Nations schools are underfunded in terms of costs and needs because the requirements for indigenous schools are different from the requirements of non-indigenous schools (Calver, 2015).
The low education outcomes for the indigenous population are caused by underfunding of first nations schools. There are few indigenous people with higher education attainment because education funding for indigenous schools does not encourage this population’s identity preservation (United Nations, 2021). Some indigenous communities view the education system as irrelevant because indigenous children are taught national discourse at the risk of losing their cultures. The educational system does not provide skills for indigenous economies, which renders the indigenous skills children acquire irrelevant because they cannot be utilized in the indigenous communities.
Systemic underfunding is a significant problem that first nations schools face. For every dollar that non-indigenous schools receive for budgeting, indigenous schools receive 40 cents (Denis, 2018). Government funding for first nation schools does not correspond to the population growth of these communities. Provincial child welfare agencies receive 22% more government funding than agencies for indigenous communities. Many indigenous communities have no schools, while other communities have few schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to the first nation’s schools. Unlike other schools where provinces mapped out measures to protect students from COVID-19, first nation schools were left to handle the preparations themselves (Fiddler, 2020). First nation leaders have raised concerns about the discrimination of the government towards funding first nation schools which places the well-being of many school children in jeopardy.
Funding the education of aboriginal people is beneficial to the individuals and the Canadian government. Education is an investment in the individual who partakes in learning. These individuals improve themselves and their communities (Denis, 2018). The indigenous youth population is large and can be a source of the labor market for the nation.
Since the establishment of the Canadian settler population in 1867, attempts have been made to displace the indigenous people. The indigenous population has been a target for assimilation and injustices where indigenous children have been abducted and lost to their families (Alexander et al., 2018). Funding the educational system for indigenous people will enable the indigenous people to enjoy their social, economic, and cultural rights. There are large numbers of indigenous people who lack awareness of their rights.
Education funding of the indigenous population will reduce the risk of injustices towards this population. Funding education of indigenous communities is vital to enable the communities to receive their land rights which have been threatened for a long (Denis, 2018). Education funding is also vital for addressing the challenges of the indigenous people and improving their living conditions. Education funding is crucial to reversing the long-existing barriers to better opportunities for the indigenous people since the 17th century.
Canada’s economy can benefit significantly from closing the educational gap between the indigenous people and the non-indigenous people in Canada. Research indicates that closing the educational gap by 2031 will raise the aboriginal employment rates to 90000 workers and the Gross Domestic Product by $28.3 billion (Calver, 2015). Under the assumption that the improvement of indigenous people’s education is constant, labor productivity in Canada will increase by 0.03% annually for the period between 2011 and 2031. Over this period, the nation’s GDP will be approximately $261 billion.
The indigenous population underperforms in the labor market because of low education levels. Funding the education of indigenous people according to their needs will lead to economic growth and improved living conditions for the indigenous population.
Alexander, K., Eagle Bear, H., Heavy Runner, T., Henrickson, A., Little Mustache, T., Mack, A., … & Weaver, K. (2018). Translating Encounters: Connecting Indigenous Young People with Higher Education through a Transmedia Project. Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education, 10(1), 61-71. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1271558.pdf
Austen, I. (2021). Canada’s Grim Legacy of Cultural Erasure in Poignant School Photos https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/05/world/canada/Indigenous-residential-schools-photos.html#:~:text=Theresidentialschoolsystemgrew,namesforgovernmentapprovedsurnames.
Calver, M. (2015). Closing the Aboriginal education gap in Canada: The impact on employment, GDP, and labour productivity. International Productivity Monitor, (28), 27. https://www.ledevoir.com/documents/pdf/autochtones_pib.pdf
Denis, J. S. (2018). Sociology of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Online supplement to SOC. https://www.nelson.com/site/culturally-responsive-teaching/include/Sociology_of_Indigenous_Peoples_in_Canada.pdf
Fiddler, W. (2020). Funding delay leaves First Nations schools scrambling to safely reopenhttps://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/08/31/funding-delay-leaves-first-nations-schools-scrambling-to-safely-reopen.html
Gordon, C. E., & White, J. P. (2014). Indigenous educational attainment in Canada. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 5(3), 6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284769612_Indigenous_Educational_Attainment_in_Canada .
Milloy, J. S. (2017). A national crime: The Canadian government and the residential school system (Vol. 11). Univ. of Manitoba Press. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=WUJ4DgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT7&dq=underfunding+of+aboriginal+education+in+canada&ots=WHkgcipp_x&sig=2njNx7PNMmW_UaJPKYBthuo2Vuo#v=onepage&q=underfundingofaboriginaleducationincanada&f=false
United Nations. (2021). Department of Economic and Social Affairs Indigenous People https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/mandated-areas1/education.html
Underfunding Of Indigenous Education In Canada