Under a recent agreement between federal and provincial governments. Indian parents can choose between public, parochial or Indian schools for the education of their children.
But Victor Janzen, inspector or Indian schools on Vancouver Island, told Saanich Peninsula school trustees Monday night the department of Indian affairs and northern development hopes all Indians will eventually see the need to have their children taught in integrated classes.
He was outlining for the school board how the agreement signed in February affects the 250 Indian students from the four bands within the school district.
As of last October 105 of them were in public schools, 20 were in a private kindergarten, 75 were at Brentwood’s Tsartlip school, operated by the Indian Affairs department and about 50 were in private or parochial schools.
WANT MIXED CLASSES
Janzen said many Indian parents have said they would like their children in mixed classes. But frequently the children come from the low end of the social-economic scale, have a poorer achievement record in elementary school and become frustrated when they reach the stronger competition of high school.
These problems are reduced when Indian students are in mixed schools in the lower grades, he added. More communication is needed between Indians and the public school system to build encouragement among them to enter it.
On Vancouver Island 2,800 Indian students are now in public or parochial schools and about 800 are in the eight schools operated by the Indian Affairs department. Janzen said the department anticipates closing two of these this year, reducing the number of students in federally-operated schools to about 550
SYSTEM TOO SMALL
He said his experience leads him to believe the federal school system is too small to attract the necessary young and competent teaching staff.
The department is grateful for the good teachers it has had but it realizes it hasn’t always been able to get what it wanted.
The two major changes the new federal-provincial agreement provides are:
Authority for a school district to lease an existing school on a reserve and operate it as if that is the wish of the band.
An increase in the federal grant for each Indian student, formerly $250 a year, now $533 and renegotiable annually to bring it in line with current operating costs.
The Indian Affairs department offers the same terms to school districts or parochial schools whichever an Indian band has indicated it prefers for its children. And it has also advised Indians it will continue to operate the Indian schools as long as they request.