'Much more than just drop-out rates': New report features first-ever
comprehensive look at the state of Aboriginal learning in Canada

OTTAWA, Dec. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - A new report by the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) offers a ground-breaking way of measuring learning success in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada.

The State of Aboriginal Learning in Canada: A Holistic Approach to Measuring Success presents a unique vision of learning that extends well beyond the classroom-encompassing learning from family, community, languages, traditions and cultures-and challenges years of negative stereotypes and bad-news stories.

"As First Nations, Inuit and Métis learning experts have advocated for decades, the learning process for Aboriginal people is both lifelong and holistic-a reality that is finally represented in the pages of this report," says Paul Cappon, President and CEO of CCL. "This report is an important and valuable step forward because it recognizes that Aboriginal learning is about much more than just drop-out rates."

The report finds that First Nations, Inuit and Métis learners display higher rates of volunteerism, informal learning (such as participation in clubs, sports, arts and music), and family and community involvement than non-Aboriginal Canadians. The report also shows that they are on equal footing with non-Aboriginal people when it comes to attainment rates in colleges and trade schools.

Key Findings

    -   More than two-thirds (70%) of First Nations adults living on-reserve
        volunteered within their community-a key source of community
        learning-compared to less than half (46%) of adult Canadians.
    -   Four in 10 Aboriginal youth living off-reserve reported interacting
        with Elders at least one hour a week outside the classroom; a key
        source of learning about culture and traditions.
    -   Nearly one-third (31%) of off-reserve Aboriginal youth participated
        in social clubs or groups outside of school-a key source of informal
        learning-compared to 21% of Canadian youth.
    -   Nearly 98% of Inuit youth and adults reported that they had received
        some form of regular support from others in their community-up from
        84% only five years prior.

These findings are the result of the first application of the Holistic Lifelong Learning Measurement Framework, an innovative, first-of-its-kind measurement tool developed by CCL that incorporates more than 30 statistical indicators reflecting the full range of lifelong learning for Aboriginal people.

"It's time to do things differently when it comes to encouraging success in First Nations learning," says Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. "There are many tremendous successes in our communities, and this report paints a more complete picture of learning for our people and offers an inspiring starting point for effective change."

In addition to conventional indicators of learning such as high-school attainment and prose literacy levels, this report measures a full range of learning experiences that take place outside the classroom, from ancestral language use and participation in cultural ceremonies and hunting to distance learning and participation in job-related training. The result is a landmark snapshot of where Aboriginal learning stands right now.

"The findings included in this report account for the wide array of experiences and opportunities that Métis people value when it comes to their lifelong learning journey," says Clément Chartier, President of the Métis National Council. "By moving beyond the all-too familiar storyline of poor academic performance it has given us a fresh, more balanced take on who we are as learners."

This report is the latest phase of CCL's ongoing initiative to redefine how success is measured in Aboriginal learning; an effort that has relied heavily on partnerships with Aboriginal organizations and communities across Canada. In 2007, this partnership introduced three Holistic Lifelong Learning Models that reflect the unique learning perspectives of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. These models provided the foundation for the current Holistic Lifelong Learning Measurement Framework contained in this report.

"I hope that this report will prove a tremendously useful starting point for decision-makers in the Arctic," says Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. "That being the case, the many strengths it illustrates do not mean that learning conditions in some communities are acceptable, rather they should be seen as critical building blocks for future improvements."

The full report is available at www.ccl-cca.ca/SAL2009.

About CCL

The Canadian Council on Learning is an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded through an agreement with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Its mandate is to provide evidence-based information to Canadians so they can make the best decisions about learning throughout all stages of life, from early childhood through to the senior years.


For further information: For further information: Sheena Powell, Communications Canadian Council on Learning, (613) 786-3230 x221, spowell@ccl-cca.ca

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