The percentage of aboriginal students completing school in the Kootenay Lake district has risen dramatically in the last two years.
Superintendent Jeff Jones says while as a whole, 76 per cent of students completed school within six years, the rate among aboriginal students climbed from 50 to 70 per cent.
“While this information needs closer scrutiny, a 70 per cent completion rate for our aboriginal students — only a six per cent gap with non-aboriginal students — is outstanding and exceeds the provincial average,” Jones said in a report to trustees this week.
“We are hopeful that our focus on raising the awareness of aboriginal education in our district and the awareness work being done is having a positive impact.”
The district has about 700 aboriginal students, according to director of instruction Andy Leathwood, and those numbers have been growing, including an increase of about 50 this year.
Leathwood suggested it is partly the result of less stigma attached to being aboriginal, and therefore more students self-identifying themselves.
As for the increase in the completion rate, Leathwood credited both raising awareness of the district’s aboriginal enhancement agreement and a team approach with support workers.
The provincial aboriginal completion rate is about 50 per cent.