Source: Gabriel Dumont Institute, of Native Studies and Applied Research, Eric Howe
Summary: Bridging the Aboriginal education gap is the most significant economic challenge confronting Saskatchewan. It is also our greatest economic opportunity.
Where else in the developed world can so much money be made just from successfully creating the conditions that encourage a group of people to complete high school? Of course, even more money will be made if they also successfully go beyond high school, but high school is a lucrative start.
This study defines Saskatchewan’s Aboriginal education gap as the difference between the actu-al educational attainment of Aboriginal people and what the level would be if they had the same average levels of educational attainment as non-Aboriginal people. The definition uses current population levels. However, the Aboriginal population is disproportionately young with a high fertility rate, so it is growing rapidly. If account were taken of future populations, the economic benefit of bridging the Aboriginal education gap would be an order of magnitude larger.
The definition of the Aboriginal education gap avoids questions associated with the adequacy of the educational level of non-Aboriginal people. Saskatchewan’s levels of educational attainment trail behind the Canadian average and that of most other provinces. In fact, we need for the educational levels of Aboriginal people to exceed, not equal, the current educational level of the non-Aboriginal population. If account were taken of the inadequacy of non-Aboriginal educational levels, the Aboriginal education gap would have been even larger, as would the economic benefit of bridging it.