We would be doing our children a disservice if we didn’t give them every chance to succeed with their schooling.
So a new aboriginal education project in the city has definite potential. The Nanaimo Learning Centre will offer schooling for students in kindergarten through Grade 3. The aboriginal-focused, culture-based instruction will be supplemented by family services such as childcare, literacy programs and social work.
Organizers in Nanaimo saw the need for a new school model because other aboriginal education programs either aren’t working, or are working too slowly. High school graduation rates are one measurement, and they indicate that only 50 per cent of First Nations youths in Nanaimo earn their diplomas each year.
By addressing the problem at the primary grade levels, this new centre will try to instill foundational learning skills and maybe even a love for learning.
There are some doubts. The fact that Nanaimo school district isn’t involved, whatever the reason, is a red flag, and fragmenting the public school system limits certain kinds of peer interaction.
Of course there are other ways to address aboriginal grad rates. Teachers and administrators want to see all students succeed, and try to make it happen. Nanaimo school district offers alternative education options and there is an aboriginal outreach program that’s locally accessible.
We know that children learn in radically different ways. Our high schools do churn out well-adjusted, well-educated, diploma-wielding grads every June, but that means something a little different in each case and pupils arrive there in unique and diverse ways.
If this new centre can provide an engaging curriculum and workable classroom composition, then it can give kids a strong start. A strong start is important. So is a strong finish. So is every step along the way.