Media Release – Improving the Quality of Aboriginal Education in Canada: A Workable Voucher System for Aboriginal Students

Press Release, Aboriginal Futures, Frontier Centre

Winnipeg: Today the Frontier Centre released a paper entitled A Workable Voucher System for Aboriginal Students.  Authored by Rodney A. Clifton, a former Professor of Sociology of Education at the University of Manitoba, the paper is a proposal for a system that would improve education for Aboriginal students on reserves and bring in greater accountability. 

While a number of policy-makers have suggested that the voucher system gives parents more choice in the schools their children attend, Clifton notes that on reserves there are currently no alternative schools, making such a system difficult, if not impossible. 

Clifton, therefore, suggests a system requiring that remedial education by independent agencies be provided to students who have been independently assessed as below their age-grade standard by two years.  These remedial programs will focus only on literacy and numeracy, the basic skills required for progress in all other subjects in school, and the cost for these programs would be paid for by band councils and not by parents.  Clifton believes that band councils will dislike paying for private tutors and that the outflow of money for re-education would have a negative effect on the reputations of both the councils and school administrators, giving them an incentive to ensure as few students as possible spend as little time as possible in these programs. 

Clifton asserts that a change in these educational procedures could have a number of desirable consequences.  For example, school administrators will be more careful in hiring and retaining teachers and not simply shuffle incompetent teachers from school to school.  Administrators will also have an incentive to ensure that the best teachers teach the most difficult students, not allowing the best teachers to bargain for the best classes of students.  Principals will have good reasons to see that students are evaluated regularly and ensure all teachers are making certain that all students are progressing at acceptable rates.


Download a copy of A Workable Voucher System for Aboriginal Students HERE.

For more information and to arrange an interview with the study's author, media (only) should contact:

Rodney A. Clifton, Ph. D.

Tel: (204) 261-8895


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rodney A. Clifton is Senior Scholar at the University of Manitoba and a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. He received his B.Ed and M.Ed. from the University of Alberta, his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, and his Fil. Dr. from the University of Stockholm. He has written for numerous newspapers and journals, including the Canadian Journal of Education, Policy Options, Sociology of Education, the National Post, and the Winnipeg Free Press. His most recent book, What’s Wrong With Our Schools and How We Can Fix Them, was published in 2010 and was co-written with Michael Zwaagstra and John Long.