Indigenous Education in the 21st Century - Conclusions and Recommendations

Indigenous Education In The 21st Century:
Executive Seminar,
Paris October 18-20, 2004
Statement by the Government of Canada
on the Theme:
"Conclusions and Recommendations"

Delivered by Line Paré
Director General
Education Branch
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Government of Canada

Paris, October 20, 2004

Mr. Chairman, Canada is pleased to offer comments on possible "conclusions and recommendations" of this Expert Seminar.

I want to take this moment to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership in this Seminar, and through you, I want to thank all participants for their many useful and insightful contributions.

Based on the Canadian experience, Canada offers the following conclusions and recommendations for consideration.

First, we should re-confirm the central importance of education - from K-to-12 and through post-secondary education - to the relationship between the State and Indigenous peoples.

Investing in Indigenous education is an investment that advances Indigenous community development and significantly benefits society as a whole.

Second, if we are serious about improving results, we must recognize that Indigenous education cannot be considered in isolation from a wide range of directly relevant factors. We need to re-frame how we think about Indigenous education.

In Canada, we are moving towards the concept of lifelong learning, as a way of dealing with all the needs of Indigenous students throughout the course of their educational experience, including health, early childhood development, child and family services, housing, parental involvement, youth development, family economic situation, etc.

Third, we need to understand that Indigenous education can improve markedly when the planning and delivery of Indigenous education is devolved to Indigenous communities and decision-makers.

Indigenous control of or jurisdiction over Indigenous education, development of "on the ground" Indigenous education expertise, increased involvement of Indigenous parents in the education of their children, inclusive approaches to Indigenous education policy development and/or renewal - all of these factors are aimed at ensuring that Indigenous children will be equipped to respond successfully to the priorities of their own communities and the challenges and opportunities of the broader societies and economies in which they will live.

Fourth, we must underscore the importance of creating an environment where Indigenous students can learn, as much as possible, on their terms. Whether they are starting grade school or finishing post-secondary studies, Indigenous students have unique challenges that must be addressed in an integrated and systematic manner.

If the goal is improved education results for Indigenous students, then some of the key ingredients are: a) increased use of Indigenous languages; b) increased presence of Indigenous teachers; c) increased Indigenous content in curricula; and d) development of innovative ways of delivering Indigenous education services based on an effective mix of Indigenous language, Indigenous role models, Indigenous content along with efforts to expand students' understanding and access to education and career opportunities.

Fifth, successful innovation in Indigenous education will require a steady and unflinching focus on results. As States and Indigenous peoples work cooperatively towards improving quality education for Indigenous peoples, it will be important to design and implement performance indicators in order to measure education outcomes over time.

Finally, Canada would like to commend the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the thoughtful and wide-ranging recommendations on education, set out in the report on its third session in May 2004 (E/C.19/2004/23). We would be prepared to work further with the Permanent Forum, the Special Rapporteur, UNESCO and other bodies to advance worldwide efforts for Indigenous education.