A new protocol agreement in British Columbia is all about collaboration, and realizing the goals of the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan, penned in 2012.
The agreement was signed July 8 by Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) President Tyrone McNeil and Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) Chair Verna Billy-Minnabarriet in Vancouver.
The agreement promises to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal post-secondary students.
The Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan was designed to help Aboriginal learners succeed in an "integrated, relevant and effective British Columbia post-secondary education system."
The goals of the framework agreement are to work toward systemic change that will
· provide a post-secondary education system that is relevant, responsive, respectful and receptive to Aboriginal learners and communities;
· ensure access to community-based delivery of programs, through partnerships with Aboriginal institutes and communities;
· reduce financial barriers;
· make seamless transitions from K–12 to post-secondary education;
· and provide continuous improvement based on research, data-tracking.
Another of the goals set out in the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan is to increase the number of post-secondary credentials awarded to Aboriginal students by 75 per cent by 2020-21. The number of credentials awarded to Aboriginal students in the post-secondary education system has increased by 23 per cent, or 607 credentials, to 3,241 in 2013-14.
The protocol agreement formalizes the existing relationship between the organizations and the ministry.
“This protocol agreement builds on the strong relationships already in place between our government, FNESC and IAHLA," said Minister Wilkinson. "Our government is committed to working closely with these two organizations to ensure that First Nations students and communities are supported in the post-secondary education system in B.C.”
"Although progress has been made in advancing First Nations post-secondary education in B.C., we still have work to do to achieve the transformation envisioned in the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework," said McNeil of FNESC.
“This protocol will provide a formal mechanism for us to jointly move forward on implementing our shared commitments and priorities to ensure that the needs of First Nations students and communities are met.”
"Aboriginal-controlled institutes are a critical part of B.C.’s post-secondary system, working within communities to support Aboriginal learners in achieving their education goals,” said Billy-Minnabarriet of IAHLA. "Through this protocol, we will see improved collaboration between Aboriginal communities and the provincial government, and in turn between our institutes and the public post-secondary system, leading to increased participation and success for Aboriginal learners.”
FNESC was formed in 1992 and represents First Nations education interests in British Columbia. IAHLA was incorporated as a society in 2002 and is an umbrella organization that represents approximately 39 Aboriginal post-secondary and adult institutes throughout the province.
Both FNESC and IAHLA are recognized as the leading policy and advocacy bodies on First Nations post-secondary education in British Columbia.