The Ministry for Education in Ontario answers AG’s questions on the importance of every child in Canada benefiting from world class education
Education in any country is important and it’s key that every child has the chance to achieve their full potential. In Canada, it is no different and the Ministry of Education in the province of Ontario strives to provide education and support to pupils of all communities. Here they outline to AG their commitment to every child in the province and steps that have been taken to reach these goals.
How important is it for each child in Ontario to benefit from education?
Vibrant communities and a prosperous society are built on the foundation of a strong education system, and the task of the government is to help the province of Ontario’s 2 million students reach their full potential.
In 2014, the Ontario government launched Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario. Its 4 goals are: Ensuring Equity, Promoting Well-being, Enhancing Public Confidence and Achieving Excellence.
The vision reaffirms the province’s commitment to helping all learners in the province’s education system develop the knowledge, skills and characteristics that will lead them to become personally successful, economically productive and actively engaged citizens. Ontario’s publicly funded education system partners with parents, guardians and communities to help develop successful graduates. With a provincial five-year graduation rate of 85.5% – we now have 190,000 additional students who have graduated since 2004 – students who would not have done so had the rate remained at the 2004 level.
How does Ontario’s Ministry of Education support schools and pupils in First Nations?
In keeping with our Aboriginal Education Strategy, the ministry continues to focus on reaching 2 primary objectives: improving student achievement and wellbeing among First Nation, Métis and Inuit students, and closing the achievement gap between Indigenous students and all other students in Ontario.
The government is also committed to continuing to build positive relationships with Ontario First Nations and working in a spirit of mutual respect through all interactions. Although the Ministry of Education does not provide direct funding for the operation of First Nation schools, the ministry works in partnership with First Nations and the federal government to achieve the goal of the Aboriginal Education Strategy.
We know that strong partnerships between the ministry, school boards, schools, educators, families, students and community organisations are essential in our work. To reach our goals, we have taken important steps in making system-wide changes including targeted funding, professional development and the integration of First Nation, Métis and Inuit perspectives into the curriculum.
How important is it for all young Canadians to understand Indigenous histories and culture?
All students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are enriched by learning about the histories, cultures and perspectives of First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada. Also, students are more engaged in their learning when they see their own communities and cultures reflected in the curriculum.
Since 2003, the Ontario Ministry of Education has engaged a broad range of Indigenous stakeholders and academic experts during the curriculum review process to ensure that the curriculum is more inclusive of First Nation, Métis and Inuit histories, cultures, contributions and perspectives.
Thanks to the contributions of our First Nation, Métis and Inuit partners, every Ontario student is building a greater awareness and understanding of Indigenous histories, cultures and perspectives. The teaching of the histories, culture and perspectives of Indigenous people – including residential schools – is now a mandatory part of the teacher training curriculum.
In 2014, Ontario sent First Nations and Treaties maps to every elementary and secondary school in the province to help raise awareness about treaties. These maps and the accompanying teaching resources are helping students to learn about the significance of the treaties and the shared history of First Nations and non-Indigenous Ontarians. Our province has designated the first week of November as Treaties Recognition Week to promote public education and awareness about treaties and treaty relationships.
How can this help to develop greater community throughout the country?
Ontario’s diversity is one of the province’s greatest assets. Embracing this diversity and moving towards inclusivity and respect will help us reach our goal of making Ontario’s education system the most equitable in the world. Everyone in our publicly funded education system – regardless of background or personal circumstances – must feel engaged and included.
How important is integration in schools in order to bring together different communities?
Ontario schools need to be places where everyone can succeed in a culture of learning and high expectations. The government’s work over the past decade has been focused on helping all children and youth reach their full potential by giving them the tools to help overcome obstacles. We are seeing the results, which includes a culture shift in schools that recognises diversity as a contributor to success, and not a barrier. The fundamental principle driving this work is that every student has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of ancestry, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, language, physical and intellectual ability, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic status or other factors.
How does the ministry support Achieving Excellence throughout Ontario with investments such as the recent $7M for First Nations Métis and Inuit students?
Ontario’s Aboriginal Education Strategy sets the foundation for improving achievement among Aboriginal students in provincially funded schools and supports life-long learning beginning in the early years and continuing through postsecondary, training or workplace opportunities. In 2016-17, Ontario’s targeted investments for Indigenous education will be more than $71mn.
Some of the more recent investments will help provide all school boards with a new senior-level position dedicated to supporting First Nation, Métis, and Inuit education initiatives. This initiative clearly demonstrates Ontario’s support for the education recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In addition, this new position will promote a greater awareness of Indigenous histories, cultures, perspectives and contributions among all students, while developing greater community and family engagement.
Ontario’s support for Indigenous students is part of the province’s overall annual education budget, which is estimated to be $22.9bn for 2016-17.
How can investments such as this help to deliver world class education for all?
Ontario’s investments in its publicly funded education system are paying dividends. The province’s strong graduation rate and international test scores confirm our success. But we are not complacent; we know that more work needs to be done to continue improving Ontario’s system and help every student reach their full potential. Equity remains a key goal of our education system, and through our many investments in education, we are committed to helping all of our students achieve success in school and beyond.
Ministry of Education
Government of Ontario