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Province's first Superintendent of Aboriginal Achievement appointed

Veteran educator DeDe DeRose has been appointed as the province's first Superintendent of Aboriginal Achievement. The position was created by the Ministry of Education to boost Aboriginal graduation numbers: 53 per cent for Aboriginal kids; 34 per cent if they're in the care of the Ministry of Child and Family Development. That's almost 30 to 50 per cent less than their non-Aboriginal peers.

In a press release issued by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), Education Minister George Abbott says this position is designed to help fill that 30 per cent gap: "DeDe will provide exceptional leadership to help identify opportunities and best practices that will further improve Aboriginal achievement in B.C."

DeRose's new role, which starts August 1, 2012, will have her working with Aboriginal partners like FNESC, as well as with school districts and education stakeholders in B.C. to identify needs and priorities for Aboriginal education. FNESC says this could also include "the redesign and development of Ministry curriculum and assessment programs."

DeRose, a Secwepempc woman and member of the Esketemc First Nation from interior, was the first aboriginal educator on the now-defunct BC College of Teachers, the first Aboriginal principal in the Kamloops North-Thompson district, and a member of the Ministry's steering committee on research into teachers of Aboriginal descent. According to the press release, this is just another step in her career-long advocacy for increased Aboriginal content and recognition in the school system.

"I’m excited to take on this new and challenging role, and also look forward to working with students, school staff and educational partners so we can support new learning environments and also recognize and address key issues facing aboriginal education," she says.

According to Ministry statistics, about one in ten B.C. students are Aboriginal. In 2011/12, the Ministry invested $63 million into Aboriginal education, approximately $1,160 per child. The current graduation level is the highest yet--with 2,908 Aboriginal students graduating in 2010/11, 131 per cent more than in 2000/01.

Katie Hyslop reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee Solutions Society.

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