Opinion

EDITORIAL: Still work to do on grad rates

The Sooke School District recently revealed its six-year graduation rate increased by one and a half per cent, bringing it to a total of 76.1. That’s the highest in its history.

Ever.

Then there’s the 116 aboriginal students who graduated from a pool of about 800 students in the school district. Considering that years ago, this group was just phantoms in an indifferent educational system, this is an important number to both maintain and grow. A contributing factor may also be school districts have begun bringing in more aboriginal instructors, and have in recent years started recognizing the various languages and cultures of First Nations.

Again, when you have something (or someone) familiar to relate to, it helps to get a sense of belonging.

Other niche academic bodies such as special needs students have also seen a provincewide graduation rate increase of 11.4 per cent. Again, impressive, as this particular wing of our education system suffered immense staff cuts last year.

Now, this is where we get into the “glass half full versus glass half empty” debate.

Yes, it all could be much better. A 100 per cent graduation rate for all students would be fantastic. It’s not a perfect world though, and you must admit, progress is still progress. These increases means our youngsters are sticking to the books longer, pushing themselves harder to succeed and learn something from their curriculum.

Of course, there’s the obvious flip side to that. Crammed schools, aging infrastructure, lack of specialized instructors, and a mixed curriculum that still leaves some kids with a haphazard amalgam of skills they may not even use in real life.

That said, the rate is still going up. If anything, the Education Ministry should take note of this increase and start filling in those gaps. There’s clearly a higher appetite for learning, so give these kids what they need: proper classrooms, more extracurricular activities, more effective engagement with potential employers, and more instructors who can serve them best.

It all sounds wishy-washy, but then again everything starts with an idea and a desire to change. After all, we wouldn’t even be at the point we are now if everything remained the same as it was a century ago.

 

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