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Public feedback helps shape Indigenous-focused graduation requirement

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 11:09 PDT, Mon June 20, 2022

Through a public engagement process, the government has received constructive feedback that will inform the successful implementation of the new Indigenous-focused graduation requirement.

A summary of the feedback collected has been published online in a report titled What We Heard - Indigenous Focused Graduation Requirement.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education and Child Care, in collaboration with the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), announced that all B.C. secondary students will be required to complete Indigenous-focused coursework before they graduate, starting in the 2023-24 school year.

An online public engagement to gain feedback on the proposed approach to implementing the new graduation requirement was held between March 7 and April 22, 2022. More than 5,600 people in all regions of B.C. provided feedback on the types of courses they believe should be eligible for the new graduation requirement, along with suggestions about what related information and resources students, parents, and schools may need.

In addition to the public surveys received, 27 engagement sessions were held with a variety of stakeholder groups, including the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, the BC Teachers' Federation and BC Student Voice, to gain perspectives and input. Overall, feedback received from various sources was largely positive.

The themes of the feedback focused on:

• Implementation timeline

• Teacher qualifications and training

• Funding and resources

• Information for students, parents/caregivers, and the public

• Broadening the considerations for eligible course offerings

The implementation plan for the new Indigenous-focused graduation requirement is expected to be announced in August 2022.

Currently, students can take existing Indigenous-focused courses, including English First Peoples 10, 11 and 12, B.C. First Peoples 12, and Contemporary Indigenous Studies 12, all of which would meet the intended graduation requirement. There are also 18 First Nations language courses that are eligible to meet the new requirement, along with locally developed, Indigenous-focused board/authority-authorized courses that meet specific criteria.

Some districts and schools have already implemented required Indigenous coursework at the secondary level. For example, starting in September 2022, Fraser-Cascade (SD 78) will require all Grade 11 students to take English First Peoples Literary Studies 11 toward meeting their English Language Arts requirement to graduate.

The new Indigenous-focused course requirement is one of the actions identified in B.C.'s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan, as part of a broader Indigenous-specific anti-racism and discrimination strategy for the K-12 system, on which First Nations were consulted in 2021.

To read the What We Heard report, click here.

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