Building a better understanding of the unique challenges facing the territories is required
- The territories' Aboriginal populations lag behind their non-Aboriginal counterparts on educational attainment and adult skills.
- Education attainment and skills development in the territories vary based on socio-economic factors and cultural influences.
- Higher educational attainment can help close the skills gaps between the territories' Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adult populations.
OTTAWA, Oct. 16 2014 /CNW/ - The territories lag their provincial counterparts on education and skills performance due to notable gaps in educational attainment between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples, according to a new How Canada Performs Conference Board of Canada report on education and skills performance in the territories.
"The territories are struggling in the areas of education and skills development, with Aboriginal populations generally lagging their non-Aboriginal counterparts," said Anja Jeffrey, Director of The Conference Board of Canada's Centre for the North."It is important to recognize the cultural and socio-economic context that helps explain the territories' education outcomes. Also, data on student and adult skills are scarce for the territories, so more work needs to be done to support skills assessment."
The report identifies deficits in critical infrastructure such as access to all-season roads, energy distribution, and broadband telecommunications as impediments to the delivery of education services. Moreover, progress on curriculum design, program governance and funding, and student assessment has also been slowed by overlapping territorial, Aboriginal and, in some cases, federal jurisdictions and programs. Social factors, including language and culture, family and community support, and traditional economic roles, also influence education and skills outcomes in the territories.
The report adopts the Conference Board's How Canada Performs provincial education and skills performance framework and assesses territorial performance in three areas: K–12 skills, post-secondary education, and adult skills.
In 2011, the high school attainment rate was nearly 88 per cent in Yukon, the highest rate among the territories. Yukon also leads the territories in university, college, and apprenticeship attainment. In fact, Yukon has the highest concentration of college graduates aged 25 to 64 in Canada, with 23.5 per cent of the territory's working-age population having a college diploma.
Between 60 and 67 per cent of Northwest Territories students in Grades 2 to 9 perform at or above the appropriate grade level in English; and 61 to 79 per cent perform at or above the appropriate grade level in math. High-school attainment is lower than the national average with 78 per cent of the working-age population having a high-school diploma. College and apprenticeship attainment rates are close to Yukon's rates.
While no public data are available on student K-12 performance in Nunavut, the territory has a much lower high school attainment rate with only 54 per cent of the working-age population having a high school diploma. Nunavut also trails Yukon and N.W.T. on college and apprenticeship attainment. The territory has the largest gap in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal attainment rates with the working-age Aboriginal population having a much lower share of high-school diplomas, and college and university degrees.
Based on limited data currently available, the territories appear generally to underperform on adult skills tests compared with their provincial counterparts. However, the average performance of the non-Aboriginal population exceeds that of the Aboriginal population and is equal to, and sometimes better than, the performance of provincial peers on literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving.
Higher educational attainment would help close skills gaps between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adult populations. "If the Northern Aboriginal population wants to be more active in managing their growing public sector and natural resource opportunities, it will be necessary to meet the job requirements for English literacy, advanced numeracy, and problem solving in technology rich environments," said Jeffrey.
SOURCE: Conference Board of Canada
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