Kindergarten to grade 12 education

First Nations, and organizations designated by First Nations, are responsible for managing and delivering education programs and services for students who are ordinarily living on reserve. In 2014-2015, the Government of Canada invested $1.45 billion in First Nation elementary and secondary education programs.

Budget 2016 is investing a total of $2.6 billion over five years, beginning in 2016-2017, into First Nations kindergarten to grade 12 education. This includes:

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About kindergarten to grade 12 education

The Government of Canada believes every First Nation child should get the best start in life, and is committed to working in partnership with First Nations to support their goals for a quality education system.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) provides funding for students who ordinarily live on reserve, are 4 to 21 years of age, and are enrolled in and attending an eligible elementary or secondary program.

This includes First Nation-operated schools on reserve across Canada, provincially-operated schools off reserve, and private schools on or off reserves. INAC provides funding directly to First Nations, and organizations designated by First Nations, such as tribal councils and First Nation education organizations, that are then responsible for managing and delivering the education programs and services. INAC also delivers services directly on reserve in seven federally-operated schools.

Funding for First Nations education

INAC has updated its methodology for calculating total kindergarten to grade 12 education operating expenditures. Based on this new methodology, INAC invested more than $1.58 billion in 2013-2014 to support about 108,000 First Nation students from kindergarten to grade 12 ordinarily living on reserve.

The $1.58 billion for 2013-2014 included:

  • $1.38 billion for elementary and secondary instructional services, student support services and various proposal-based and targeted programs (such as the New Paths for Education Program, First Nation Student Success Program, Education Partnerships Program and High-Cost Special Education Program) transferred to First Nations and organizations designated by First Nations for the delivery of these services and programs
  • $112 million to operate and maintain school facilities
  • an estimated $92 million to support kindergarten to grade 12 teachers and staff through Band Support Funding and Employee Benefits related to education services

This amounts to an average spending of $15,290 per full-time First Nation student. More details can be found in the Kindergarten to grade 12 operating expenditures 2013-2014 overview.

The 2014-2015 figure of $1.45 billion above is from INAC's 2014-2015 Departmental Performance Report (DPR). The methodologies used to calculate the DPR figure and the operating expenditures for 2013-2014 are not the same.

The $1.45 billion for 2014-2015 includes:

The difference between the 2013-2014 operating expenditures total and the 2014-2015 DPR total does not represent a decrease in funding. It simply reflects the different methodologies used. The Kindergarten to grade 12 operating expenditures 2013-2014 overview reflects direct investments across departmental programs and authorities to First Nations and organizations designated by First Nations for the delivery of Kindergarten to grade-12 education. The DPR reports according to departmental program structures and authorities. Consult the Kindergarten to grade 12 operating expenditures 2013-2014 overview for more detail on the different methodologies.

Education infrastructure

In 2014-2015, INAC invested over $263 million to support infrastructure costs for education facilities primarily located on reserve.

Find out more about Education Infrastructure and Improving First Nations schools on reserve.

Elementary and Secondary Education Program

The Elementary and Secondary Education Program provides funding for eligible students ordinarily living on reserve for elementary and secondary education programs comparable to those in provincial schools. For students who live on reserve but attend provincially-operated schools located off reserve, and private schools on or off reserve, INAC provides funding for the tuition amount.

Special education programs

INAC supports First Nation students' special education needs through two programs:

The High-Cost Special Education program provides additional investments designed to help eligible students to access quality programs and services that are culturally sensitive and reflective of generally accepted provincial/territorial standards.

New Paths for Education Program

The New Paths for Education Program funds projects and activities that improve the quality of education in First Nation schools and enhance the educational experiences of students, teachers, administrators, parents and communities. These include professional development for teachers, curriculum development, involvement of parents in children's education and more.

First Nation Student Success Program

The First Nation Student Success Program is designed to support First Nation educators on reserve (kindergarten to grade 12) in their ongoing efforts to meet student needs and improve student and school results. In particular, the program supports activities that increase student achievement levels in reading and writing (literacy), mathematics (numeracy) and encourage students to remain in school (student retention).

Education Partnerships Program

The Education Partnerships Program is a proposal-based program designed to promote collaboration between First Nations, provinces, INAC and other stakeholders to advance First Nation student achievement in First Nation and provincial schools. The program supports the establishment and advancement of formal partnership arrangements that develop practical working relationships between officials and educators in provincial systems and regional First Nation organizations and schools.

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