Fraser Institute report on First Nations education draws criticism

August 13, 2014

According to a new report released last week by the Fraser Institute, increased funding to First Nations schools will not fix the low graduation rates currently plaguing First Nations youth. Suggesting that the overall operating expenditure for First Nations students is actually equal to or greater than that for students attending provincial schools, the report attempts to dispel several “myths” about First Nations education. The report asserts that on-reserve schools do not meet provincial education standards and are issuing diplomas and credentials that are not recognized by many employers or higher education institutions. Critics of the report, such as Tyrone McNeil, President of the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) in BC, state that the report pan-nationalizes data and ignores evidence to the contrary. Jarrett Laughlin, a senior policy analyst with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), takes issue with almost all of the myths explored in the report. "From our perspective, it's perpetuating more of the 'myths' and not enough of the realities," he said. A statement released by the AFN addresses many of the report’s claims, stating that the “Fraser Institute report uses an inaccurate approach to identifying the core, sustainable and predictable funding that reaches First Nation schools,” and that “despite the lack of specific resources to develop educational standards, First Nation education systems have been able to build and develop local standards that support their schools and communities.” Fraser Institute News Release | Report Summary | Chilliwack Progress | National Post | The Tyee | AFN Statement | Winnipeg Free Press