Audit Faults Canada's Oversight of Program for Aboriginal Higher Education

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Mar 19 17:35:38 UTC 2009

Audit Faults Canada's Oversight of Program for Aboriginal Higher Education

An internal audit that was quietly released this week in Ottawa says
the Canadian government isn’t doing a good enough job of keeping track
of the nearly $300-million program that’s supposed to help aboriginal
students go to college, and that the number of aboriginal students
getting money is actually 4,000 less than a decade ago.

Those findings come despite the government’s having declared higher
education a priority in its efforts to close the poverty gap between
aboriginal people and other Canadians, the Canadian Press reported.
The country’s three officially recognized aboriginal peoples, who make
up 4 percent of the population, are the First Nations (North American
Indians), the métis, and the Inuit. The Assembly of First Nations, an
advocacy organization, estimates that 10,000 qualified First Nations
students want to attend college but are on waiting lists for lack of
financial aid.

The audit says that there are discrepancies in the amounts of money
available to students in different parts of the country and that the
postsecondary program is hampered by lax reporting, growing education
costs, and a haphazard system of disbursing support. “It is important
that clear and appropriate performance measures, results indicators,
and targets be developed,” the audit says.

In recent years, Canadian universities and colleges have increased
efforts to recruit and retain aboriginal students. In 2007 an
independent research group, the Centre for the Study of Living
Standards, stated that Canada would be the loser if it didn’t increase
the number of aboriginal students in higher education. —Karen Birchard
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