There’s good news on the education front this week with the release of the 2013 to 2016 Achievement Contract by School District No. 46. The targets the trustees have set are lofty, but ones we believe are doable.
Patrick Bocking, the superintendent of schools, set the tone for the contract when he told board trustees that the goals were ambitious. Beginning with the core value of any education system — literacy — the contract goes on to include increased cultural based learning, having welcoming and safe environments and improving graduation rates.
Kudos to the schools for realizing that education begins long before a child ever sets foot in a school. By encouraging parents to begin the journey of literacy SD46 is creating a blueprint for success for tiny tots.
There are many programs currently in use on the Sunshine Coast that pave the way for the future. Success by Six, the Wonder Wheels bus (a very cool program much like the old-fashioned bookmobiles that used to service rural areas) and Strong Start are but a few that are well used on the Coast. The beauty of these programs is their accessibility to all families regardless of the income level of the family. It’s good news that plans are afoot to increase the availability of successful literacy programs. Many times a whole family will benefit from a child’s extra exposure to reading.
That’s a great thing in our books.
We’re happy too to see an increased focus on culturally based education. In our community we are lucky to have the Sechelt Indian Band’s education centre for a resource. It would be good to see the programs at Kinninnick Elementary School and Chatelech Secondary School spread to other schools in the area. And because a goodly percentage of First Nations children on the Coast are not affiliated with the Sechelt Nation, there’s lots of room for other cultural education as well.
Over the years thanks to the hard work of such educators as Kerry Mahlman, the Aboriginal graduation rate has gradually improved. Our dream would be to see graduation rates the same for students across the board. The key in many instances goes back to those little kindergarten children — how welcome do we make them feel and how quickly do we recognize any learning difficulties they may have.
Bullying is still a pervasive element in our society. And although programs such as Roots of Empathy help to make students more aware of the role each individual plays in hurting others, until such time as children are secure in their own self-worth we fear bullying will always be present. The early years education could very well have a lot to bear on this dynamic. Another good reason to support all pre-school literacy programs.
Ultimately the graduation numbers 15 to 20 years from now will measure the success of the achievement contract. The smart folks at the school district will learn as they go — we think this is an excellent start.