The B.C. government will invest $2.7 million in Indigenous teacher education training, to try boost Indigenous teacher numbers and practices.
The commitment was made in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call for governments to fund higher education institutions to train teachers how to better integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.
The cash injection was announced by Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT).
Currently, the government say Indigenous teachers are under-represented in B.C.’s education system, with only four to six per cent of teaching graduates identifying as Indigenous.
“Investing in Indigenous educators has been a call to action for generations,” said Mark. “It empowers Indigenous students to see themselves in their teachers, and Indigenous teachers to continue to act as role models across the education ecosystem. All communities benefit when we embrace our diversity.”
The funding includes $1.4 million toward teacher education seats for Indigenous students. Additionally, NVIT will receive $730,000 for two master of education cohorts, in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC).
An additional $600,000 to integrate Indigenous knowledge and culture into the B.C. teacher education curriculum will provide $50,000 to eight institutions for the B.C. Public Teacher Education Programs and $200,000 for the Association of B.C. Deans of Education to support co-ordination and collaboration across the institutions.
Ken Tourand, president and CEO of NVIT said, “NVIT’s five founding First Nations bands had a vision to improve the quality of life of Indigenous peoples through Indigenous education. Its very inception is reconciliation in action. This new funding provides an opportunity to advance this vision to include training future B.C.’s K-12 teachers. NVIT’s learning environment and curriculum are embedded with Indigenous knowledge and ways of being. Ideally, future generations will benefit from classrooms and curriculum infused with the principles of respect, relevance, reciprocity and responsibility first identified in 2001 by Verna Kirkness and Ray Barnhardt [authors of an Indigenous education study].”
The 2019 budget is committed to investing in a new K-12 curriculum that makes sure all children in B.C. are taught about Indigenous culture and history.
The province says in 2017-18, the Ministry of Education provided $260,000 to NVIT and UBC to develop and expand Indigenous teacher education programs, and invested $65,000 to create 15 new Indigenous teacher education seats at Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan campus.