The Problem with Data

When we consider the changes that need to occur in the area of Aboriginal Education Policy so that we can collectively achieve better success rates for Aboriginal students, many of the articles that I have read identify the concern with obtaining reliable data. There is such a diversity of Aboriginal communities and people across Canada, and they are often forced to navigate diverse provincial and federal educational policies and resources. This diversity in itself can create challenges in obtaining reliable data.

The difficulty in obtaining reliable data was identified as part of the initiative Learn Canada 2020, when provincial and territorial ministers of education affirmed their commitment to addressing education outcomes for Aboriginal students. One of the strategies that resulted from that initiative was to strengthen the capacity for evidence-based decision making. This is really the only way to move forward.

Really, evidence-based data is key to many disciplines in Canada and is not that far removed from Indigenous knowledge. Based on a holistic lifestyle and ways of learning, Indigenous people have relied on the evidence provided to them through their oral history in order to survive in North America for generations.

Given the diversity of governing bodies across the country, and given that we live in a democratic society that has the opportunity to change its governing bodies every four years, the only way to ensure that new governments will adopt the long-term policies (often initiated by previous governments) that are needed to inspire real change for Aboriginal education, is to ensure that policies are based on reliable evidence-based data.

Find the publication entitled Key Policy Issues in Aboriginal Education: An Evidence-Based Approach here.