Aboriginal Students Association at York


ASAY is having a conference March 1st and 2nd and I am due to present on aboriginal education. Here is the abstract I submitted:

Youth on the reserve may have high aspirations to attend post-secondary educational institutes and to reach high levels of career professionalism. However, the barriers they face include, high costs, obligations to family members and dependents, and the significant time commitment. All these factors are often prohibitive to furthering studies. Other barriers that continually and rightfully loom in the backdrop are the residential school system that fuels an anti-school culture and subsequent failures to successfully develop a sustainable school strategy. From the perspective of most established post-secondary schools, spots dedicated to aboriginal students and some scholarships are available to support dedicated students. It is a hands-off approach that rewards those ambitious aboriginals to stick with school, but primary school support from professional schools is negligible. This protocol has been formed through the federal government’s disengagement from Indian Education. This creates a problem for the coherence of aboriginals living in Canada; a cultural barrier between education on and off the reserve. In some respect, Statistics Canada measures successfulness by the number of graduate, professional and Ph. D. receiving students. However, these are westernized creations and therefore they will mostly reward students who comfortably identify as ‘westernized’. Entry into these programs requires high scores on standardized tests. Due to the atmosphere on the reserve, motivation to commit the time required to learning the material is low. Understandably so since the content, developed by an estranged panel, has no obvious relationship to students. This is one issue that might have a solution. Ongoing research into education is unraveling locally crafted, regionally qualified education models that bring a sense of immediacy and urgency to the material being taught. The shift happens when course material found in westernized textbooks, to material directly applicable to the current surroundings and relatable to the student. Since federally decided educational material is appropriate to all surroundings, it is should not be a matter of providing the school teaching materials, since this has proven to have unsatisfactory impact on the student, but instead to have the material made locally with reference to federal guidelines. The biggest challenge comes when creating a standardized test. Standardized tests (ST) are used as benchmarks for admission into some high schools, universities, professional and graduate programs as well as to assess competency throughout professional careers. Whether or not they are the best mode for assessing knowledge is debatable, but they are nonetheless a sure way to minimize grading biases and ensuring quality control. Research into the theory of creating a standardized test that is culturally appropriate to aboriginal customs and is an appropriate judge of preparedness for further education was conducted and supplemented with feedback from health studies students living on the First Nation Reserve, Six Nations. This study proves the importance of bridging the gap between aboriginal and westernized education systems.

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