The Vancouver School Board is considering adopting a separate mini-school program in high schools for First Nations, so that more students would stay in school. According to Board Chair Patti Bacchus, Aboriginal students are continuously dropping out of school; the numbers are increasing by the year. “Our graduation rates are very flat, are very discouraging. We hear too often students saying I didn’t belong, people didn’t understand me,” she said. This mini-school type program is hoped to be implemented in secondary school by September 2012. Ina Campbell is a First Nations mother, who has five children. She claims that this program should be incorporated into the school system as soon as possible, stating that the current education system doesn’t suit her kids. She wants teachers who understand the First Nations cultures and values. “I’ve been on a real fight to have my children educated with the same opportunities – to get an education – and I don’t see that happening,” Campbell said.
This new system may seem like a possibility for First Nation students to be more successful in school. However, if you look at this system in a different perspective, you are essentially isolating and segregating the First Nations away from the mainstream. By giving them this “special program,” the VSB is separating the First Nations from the other students of society. Plus, when learning in an environment with First Nations as classmates and teachers, and having the education modified so it meets the First Nations cultural and traditional needs, it will hinder the students’ performance at post-secondary. This is because once a student becomes accustomed to learning in a “special” environment with First Nations, they will have hard time adapting to the cultures and values of the mainstream society in both the work-force and post-secondary. In essence, by adopting this mini-school program for First Nations, you are both benefiting them in a way, while at the same time, isolating them from the mainstream, would could prove to be detrimental in the long run.