The new Indigenous-focused course requirement announced by the Ministry of Education and Child Care is something the BCTF has been publicly advocating for since 2011, and undoubtedly an important milestone on our shared journey of truth and reconciliation. We have consistently voiced that the successful implementation of such a significant requirement requires a flexible, adaptable, and, importantly, fully resourced implementation process that includes in-service and training. This requires government to step up and allocate the funding required to ensure this important work is implemented in a positive and respectful way.
Feedback process and BCTF input
In March and April of this year, the Ministry of Education and Child Care sought feedback from the public, education stakeholders, and First Nations and Métis communities throughout the province. This engagement process included a public survey, virtual focus groups, and invitations for organizations to submit written feedback. A more fulsome summary of the Ministry’s engagement activities can be found here.
The Federation circulated information about the engagement process and a survey link to all BCTF members via BCTF News in March and April and invited Indigenous staff members to lead the BCTF’s feedback process for the formal submission.
Members can log in to read the complete BCTF response to the Indigenous Graduation Requirement—April 2022. Highlights of concerns include the impact on course offerings, the amount of time and in-service training required to teach the courses in a respectful and successful way, potential implications for Indigenous students, ensuring teachers with Indigenous ancestry do not feel pressured to teach these courses, and that the course curriculum and resources are developed and delivered with the depth and respect they deserve.
Ministry’s What We Heard report
Earlier this month, the Ministry published the findings of its engagement process: What We Heard: Indigenous-focused graduation requirement.
The 25-page report provides a detailed account of the public engagement process and feedback on courses identified by the Ministry, supports required, implementation timeline, teacher training and qualifications, Indigenous involvement in program design, and more.
Key themes identified in the report include:
- implementation timeline
- teacher qualifications and training
- funding and resources
- information for students, parents/caregivers, and the public
- broadening the considerations for eligible course offerings.
In other words, the BCTF feedback was mirrored in the Ministry report showing that teachers support of the Indigenous graduation requirement and concerns with the implementation process are shared by other stakeholders and families.
The implementation plan for the new Indigenous-focused graduation requirement is expected to be released in August 2022.