Panel Hears Parental and Community Involvement Key to Student Success

Visits with students, teachers and parents in Goose Bay and Sept-Îles highlight seventh regional engagement session

QUÉBEC CITY, Nov. 15, 2011 /CNW/ - The importance of parental involvement is a key factor in student achievement, underscored teachers and school administrators meeting with the National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education in Labrador and Québec.  There is a strong connection between a student's success in school and their parents' involvement and support in their child's educational experience said staff at Sheshatshiu Innu School and Uashat's Manikanetish High School and Johnny Pilot Primary School.  As well, teachers and principals highlighted communities as a whole have an important role to play in supporting and strengthening schools and student success.

Parental involvement can take many forms including attending school functions, responding to school obligations such as parent-teacher conferences, helping children with homework, encouraging them, and modeling desired behavior such as reading for pleasure, the educators said.  Examples of the importance of broader community support included volunteering at the school and playing an active role in decision-making in terms of planning and developing the educational or school community.  Everyone, from parents to elected leaders to Elders has an important role to play teachers advised.

"Parental involvement results in students getting higher grades and having higher graduation rates.  Additionally, the students have better school attendance, increased motivation and self-esteem, lower rates of suspension, decreased usage of drugs and alcohol and fewer instance of violent behavior,"  said Mr. Clarence Davis, Principal of Sheshatshiu Innu School, near Goose Bay.  "When parents are involved, not only do students do better in school, and in life, but parents become more empowered, teacher morale improves, schools improve and this all combines to create stronger communities."

Important factors for quality schools and positive education experiences highlighted during the Roundtable in Sept-Îles, Québec included:

  • Paying on-reserve teachers on par with public school is key for school stability and low staff turn-over;
  • The vital role of secondary supports from First Nations regional education organizations for such things as curriculum development, teacher training and student assessment; and
  • The importance of indigenous language and culture for students' self-esteem and resiliency.

"The Panel's time in Labrador and Québec once again demonstrated that there are hundreds of committed educators and leaders across the country - First Nations and non-Aboriginal people alike - whose highest priority is improving the quality of education and outcomes for First Nations students," said Scott Haldane, Chair of the Panel.  "Every child deserves a quality education that is respectful and supportive of values and culture and opens the door to realizing his or her full potential to contribute to their community and pursue their dreams."

More than half of First Nations peoples are under age 25 and 350,000 are under 14.  Fewer than half of First Nations students attending schools on and off-reserve graduate from high school, compared to more than 80 per cent of other Canadian youth.  Non-Aboriginal students are over 10 times more likely to obtain a university degree than on-reserve students.  Employment levels for First Nations students who graduate university are virtually identical to other Canadians.   

The Panel, a joint initiative of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) and the Assembly of First Nations, will deliver its recommendations to the federal minister and National Chief by year end.

For more information and to have your say in the development of recommendations to improve First Nation elementary and secondary education, please visit:  Follow the Panel's activities on Twitter at Panel_Education.

SOURCE National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education

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Susan King:  C: 613-725-5901; O: 613-744-8282;

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