Students heading back to school this September will see a few academic changes.
The provincial government has recently announced a revamp of its scholarship program for high school students going on to post-secondary school or training, and teachers and administrators are preparing to find out more about how they will be incorporating residential school history into this year’s curriculum.
The B.C Scholarship Program, which has been in place since 1987, now consists of four major scholarships after the revisions — the BC Excellence Scholarship; the Pathway to Teacher Education Scholarship; the BC Achievement Scholarship; and the District/Authority Scholarship.
“Parents are proud of their children’s accomplishments and our scholarship program shows the province shares that pride. For nearly 30 years, B.C.’s scholarship program has helped countless B.C. residents take the next step towards meaningful, rewarding careers,” said Education Minister Mike Bernier in a press release. “Our revamped scholarship program is going to better recognize the diversity of our students and their successes — in the classroom, on the field, on the stage and in the community.”
“We’re really pleased to see that the District/Authority Scholarship is going to be retained in the revamp. It’s been expanded in the past few years. It’s been a really positive thing for the students and for the district,” said Rocky Mountain School District No. 6 superintendent Paul Carriere.
The amount given for the District/Authority Scholarship started at $1,000, but has since increased to $1,250. Students apply to the scholarship and give a local presentation to trustees from each of Rocky Mountain School District’s three zones.
“With the provincial revamp, I see these changes as positive,” said Carriere. “The focus, instead of being on achievement on provincial exams, is on students’ overall achievement as they go through school.”
In the press release, Bernier pointed out that the new scholarships also better align with the objectives of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint to connect students with skills for in-demand careers.
The BC Excellence Scholarship is awarded for commitment to a particular career path and a demonstration of community involvement/leadership skills; the Pathway to Teacher Education Scholarship is awarded for academic achievement and commitment to a teaching career; the BC Achievement Scholarship is awarded for achievement in Grade 10, 11 and 12 courses required for graduation and top elective courses; and the District/Authority Scholarship is awarded for criteria determined by local districts to celebrate achievement in a variety of areas including technical and trades training, fine arts, physical activity, applied skills, international languages, community service and indigenous languages and culture.
The new scholarship program will be phased in, beginning this fall with full implementation coming in the following school year.
At that point, the program will be distributing more than $15 million to students each year.
Teaching the history of residential schools
The incorporation of the history of Canadian residential schools into curriculums across the country, starting this year, is one of the outcomes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which released its recommendations this past June.
David Thompson Secondary School aboriginal education support teacher and Shuswap Indian Band education officer Deb Fisher said that, from what she understands, adding the history of residential schools to the curriculum is coming this year, but “as a school system, we don’t know how.
“We’re not sure because the details on how haven’t been release yet. But I’m interested to see what the federal government comes up with.”
Teachers were set to start pre-school professional development days starting on Wednesday, September 3rd and the topic may be addressed then.