Section 47 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code requires
Saskatchewan school divisions serving a student body comprised of five
percent or more aboriginal students to develop and implement an education
equity plan. The purpose of an education equity plan is to increase the
number of high school graduates of aboriginal ancestry.
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The reasons for this situation are numerous and varied. One reason that has been identified by the Minister's Advisory Committee, Curriculum and Instruction Review Report, Directions: The Final Report (Saskatchewan Education, 1984) is that the school system is too narrow (exclusively European) for aboriginal students. The result of this narrowness is that the students develop a feeling of not belonging (Kruzeniski, Holizki, Kernaghan, Hnatyshyn & Hock, 1985).
To address this problem, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has been given the mandate to cause school divisions with five percent or more aboriginal students to develop and implement a plan of action (education equity plan) which would ameliorate the situation where the system is too narrow and the aboriginal students feel that they do not belong.
Four goals must be met by any action taken to redress this problem. Firstly, the action must result in a significant increase in the number of teachers of aboriginal ancestry; secondly, there must be an increase in the level of sensitivity to cultural differences of non-aboriginal teachers; thirdly, there must be an increase in parental involvement in educational affairs; and finally, there must be a process of elimination of systemic barriers and biases against aboriginal people.
It is anticipated that the number of school-age children of aboriginal ancestry in Saskatchewan will increase from the current number of 34,913 to 52,366 by the years 2006. This is a change from 16.4% of the Saskatchewan school population today to 29.6% of the school population in 2006 (Statistics Canada, 1986). In the future, more school divisions in Saskatchewan will find themselves with five percent or more of their student population being of aboriginal ancestry. Therefore, more school divisions will be required to become involved in the development and implementation of education equity plans pursuant to Section 47 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
School divisions engaging in the development and implementation of education equity plans would find it useful to have the answers to the following five questions.
1. What amount of money should be budgeted for the development and implementation of an education equity plan?
2. How many human resources (person hours) are required to develop and implement an education equity plan?
3. What clerical and material costs are associated with the development and implementation of an education equity plan?
4. Are there strategies that might be useful in the development and implementation process that would make the process more efficient?
5. Are there any underlying reasons why a school division would be hesitant to develop and implement an education equity plan?
The study was conducted to determine the answers to these
and other questions related to the development and implementation of education
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The sample for this study was made up of 18 of the 19 directors of education whose school divisions had an education equity plan in place as of December 1990. The sample represented 95% of the population.
Three directors were selected for a telephone interview.
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The notion that all people are of equal worth and should achieve to their potential is the strongest argument in favor of affirmative action programs. It follows, therefore, that in a just world, groups such as women, aboriginal people, disabled people or visible minorities should be represented proportionally to their numbers in all aspects of society. This is certainly not the case when considering the number of aboriginal high school drop-outs as compared to the number of non-native high school drop-outs.
The literature does identify a number of arguments against the implementation of affirmative action programs. Included in these arguments is a feeling affirmative action is demeaning to the target group or that compulsive programs such as education equity violate local government autonomy. Others believe that the significant monetary costs associated with righting past wrongs are not justified.
Examples of the monetary costs associated with affirmative action are found in the literature. A study conducted by Jain and Hackett (1989) reported that of 190 organizations dealing with employment equity, 28.8% allocated $25.00 per employee to employment equity activities. Thirteen point five percent were found to allocate between $26.00 and $50.00 per employee. The City of Toronto assigns the responsibility for implementation of employment equity programs to a senior manager of each department (Bruce, 1985). The cost of equal pay for work of equal value is estimated to be between $12 million and $16 million in Manitoba (Connolley, 1991, p. 57) and between $1 billion and $3 billion in Ontario (Connolley, 1991, p. 57).
The literature describes the funding available to school
jurisdictions for affirmative action programs. In Quebec, the funding from
the provincial government was found to be $40,000 per school board and
in Ontario the governmental funding was found to be $51,000 per school
board over three years. Such funding is the exception, not the rule, in
Canada. The provision of funding in Saskatchewan and in other parts of
the country for affirmative action programs appears to be, for the most
part, the responsibility of the implementing agency.
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The average size of a development committee for education equity plans was found to be ten members. These included trustees, directors, principals, teachers, parents, students, representatives of tribal chiefs and others. The make-up of the various committees varied. Some had a representative of most or all of the above. One committee was comprised only of the director, assistant director, a teacher and two principals. It would appear to be desirable to have as broad a representation as possible on the committees. This would enable the committee to integrate various special measures and strategies into the plan. These would address the different perspectives and sensitivities of the aboriginal community as well as the educational community.
The study revealed that, although the 13 school divisions provided service to 8,933 students of aboriginal ancestry, only four school divisions had a trustee of aboriginal ancestry on the board of education. This fact suggests a significant inequity. It should be pointed out, however, that one reason for the disproportionate numbers of aboriginal trustees on boards of education is the result of choices made and positions adopted by band councils.
The amount of money spent by the school divisions in the development and implementation of their plan was not great. These costs took the form of per diems and kilometerage paid to non-employees of the school division. These combined expenses did not exceed $700.00 per school division.
Time was found to be the most significant resource allocated to the process by the 13 school divisions. Each development and implementation committee met for an average of 188.74 person hours to develop its plan. In addition, some of the school divisions struck sub-committees to focus on specific aspects of plan development. These sub-committees met for an average of 190.8 person hours in the development process. Writing drafts for the plan required an additional 16.8 hours. It appeared that the responsibility for the writing of plan drafts was assumed by the directors of education of the school divisions.
Fifty-three percent of the members of the committees were professionals and thus represented a direct expense to the school divisions. In addition, 11% of the members were non-professional employees of the school division. Therefore, 64% of the members of the development and implementation committees were in the employ of the school divisions.
The development and implementation committees generated and circulated an average of 1,102 pages of meeting minutes, draft plans and final plans to their committee members. This represents significant secretarial time, material and postage costs. All of these costs were borne by the school divisions.
The majority of the school divisions indicated that they would not choose to spend fewer resources in the development and implementation of a plan were they to engage in a similar process in the future. However, the need for the large number of meetings in the process was called into question by some of the school divisions. This concern about meetings reflected a stated frustration with the difficulty encountered by some in having all committee members meet regularly. Although no strategies were suggested as to the method of reducing the number of meetings, school divisions might consider adopting a system that would have sub-committees use telephone conferences followed up by written submissions to the sub-committee chairperson for compilation. The attendance of only the sub-committee chairpersons would be essential for development committee meetings.
Two reasons were suggested as to why a school division with in excess of five percent aboriginal students might not wish to develop and implement a plan. The first reason suggested was the compulsive nature of the process as articulated by Section 47 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. This infringement appears to some respondents to violate the autonomy of the Board of Education. The second reason suggested was that there is a sense that school divisions may feel that they cannot address the needs of the students because there are several constituencies that exist in the aboriginal community. The perceived lack of consensus on the part of the aboriginal community regarding the role of education may be an impediment to the goal of education equity.
In summary and in general terms, the study indicated the following points:
1. One thousand dollars should be budgeted for the process of plan development recognizing that distances for which kilometerage might be paid are significantly variable.
2. School divisions should be prepared to devote in excess of 200 person hours of meeting time to the development committee and an additional 200 hours of sub-committee time should sub-committees be struck.
3. It was determined that in excess of 1,100 pages of documentation would be generated by a development committee. The related secretarial, duplicating and postal costs are likely to be assumed by a participating school division.
4. In order to improve the development process, the school division respondents indicated that it would be desirable to reduce the number of committee meetings.
5. The two reasons that emerged for not developing and
implementing a plan were: the perception that school division autonomy
is being infringed upon, and the diverse perceptions of the aboriginal
community regarding the goal of education equity plans.
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The resources required to develop and implement an education equity plan in a Saskatchewan school division are significant. Human resources, both professional and para-professional, were identified as the significant asset provided by the school divisions to the process. The financial resources that were provided were not considered to be a significant burden to the school divisions. Clerical costs, material costs and distribution costs associated with document distribution were significant in the development process.
There is no assistance for school divisions from the provincial government currently available in Saskatchewan as is the case in Ontario (Hill, 1987) and in Quebec (Canadian Education Association, 1988). However, there will be an increase in the number of Saskatchewan school divisions that find themselves with more than five percent of their student body being of aboriginal ancestry in the future (Loh, 1990). Because of the compulsive nature of the legislation, serious consideration should be given by the Saskatchewan Government to sharing the burden of the costs of development and implementation of education equity plans with school divisions.
The second purpose of the study was to determine if there are unknown reasons for school divisions, with five percent or more of their student body being of aboriginal ancestry, not to develop and implement an education equity plan.
Possible factors resulting in a school division's refraining
from developing and implementing an education equity plan were identified.
The first was that Section 47, Saskatchewan Human Rights Code (the compelling
legislation) is perceived as an encroachment on the autonomy of the school
division. The second factor put forth was the diverse agendas of the First
Nations which act as barriers to school divisions attaining the goal of
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1. There is a need for provision of resources to school divisions by senior levels of government to enable them to purchase consultative services with a view to reducing the amount of meeting time required to produce an approved plan.
2. Consideration should be given by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission to recommend strongly that development committees have a significant number of aboriginals as members.
3. Consideration should be given by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission to lobby for legislation requiring education equity plans which would enable the Human Rights Commission to label some school divisions as "PARTICIPANT". This designation would be given to those school divisions that do not wish to develop for approval, a formal education equity plan, because they are able to demonstrate that their systems already meet or exceed all the basic requirements for formal plan approval. This would remove the compulsive nature of the current legislation. This would also enable "APPROVED" (school divisions with Human Rights Commission approved plans) and "PARTICIPANT" school divisions to exchange information and resources.
4. In view of the goal of education equity plans (increasing
the number of aboriginal high school graduates) and in consideration of
the amount of resources required to produce a plan, a study should be conducted
to determine if progress has been made. Specifically, the study should
seek to determine how many aboriginal student graduates there have been
in school divisions with "approved" plans in place for the last five years.
The number of graduates from these school divisions should be compared
to the number of aboriginal student graduates from school divisions without
approved plans in place but serving aboriginal students. The study should
also identify the reasons for aboriginal students leaving school prematurely
in school divisions with plans, and the reasons for premature leaving in
school divisions without plans.
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Canadian Education Association. (1988). Especially for women: Programs and services offered by school boards. Toronto, ON: Canadian Education
Connolley, J. P. (1991). A study of the costs associated with the development and implementation of an education equity plan in Saskatchewan school divisions. Unpublished master's project, University of Regina, Regina, SK.
Federation of Saskatchewan Indians. (1973). Indian education in Saskatchewan, I. Saskatoon, SK: Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College.
Hill, A. (1987, April/May). Funding affirmative action, funding continues: Regulation expected. FWTAO Newsletter, 3 (4), p. 46.
Kruzeniski, R. J., Holizki, T. A., Kernaghan, J., Hnatyshyn, H., & Hock, K. (1985). Education equity: A report on Indian/Native education in Saskatchewan. Regina, SK: Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.
Loh, S. (1990, January). Population projections of registered Indians, 1986-2011. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada.
Saskatchewan Department of Education. (1985, February). Inner-city dropout study. Regina, SK: Author.
Saskatchewan Education. (1984). Directions: The Final Report. Regina, SK: Author.
Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, Saskatchewan Statute 1979 c. S-24-1.
Statistics Canada. (1986). Census report on aboriginal
people in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada.
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Education Equity Plans
1. Saskatoon Separate School Division
2. Indian Head School Division
3. Meadow Lake School Division
4. Northern Lakes School Division
5. Saskatoon Public School Division
6. Prince Albert Public School Division
7. Regina Separate School Division
8. Biggar School Division
9. Wilkie School Division
10. Prince Albert Comprehensive School Division
11. North Battleford Separate School Division
12. Cupar School Division
13. Wadena School Division
14. Northern Lights School Division
15. North Battleford Public School Division
16. Balcarres School Division
17. Broadview School Division
18. Kamsack School Division
19. Prince Albert Separate School Division
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