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First Nations courses for high school grad credits now available to B.C. students

Students can participate in First Nations courses due to expansion of External Credentials program
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B.C. high-school students will now be able to earn credits for First Nations language and culture programs through the expansion of the External Credentials Program (ECP).

Changes enacted July 1, allow First Nations to create and approve language and cultural learning programs, to be recognized by the Ministry of Education and Child Care as external credentials that students can use toward graduating, a Ministry of Education and Child Care news release said.

First Nations will lead the identification of graduation-credit eligible language and culture programs and oversee the delivery of these learning opportunities, including student attainment of an appropriate level of performance and proficiency.

For new programs to be eligible as external credentials, they must have a level of depth and rigour comparable to Grade 10, 11 and 12 courses and ensure that a subject matter expert will assess student performance.

“The ministry is pleased to work in partnership with the First Nations Education Steering Committee to enable students to receive credit toward graduation for First Nations language and culture teaching that takes place outside of their regular school program,” said Jennifer Whiteside, minister of education and child care. “This new external credential option recognizes the valuable learning opportunities that First Nations provide to youth in their communities.”

Examples of language and culture programs that could count for an external credential under the expanded ECP include First Nations language proficiency, drumming or dancing, an on-the-land learning program, a traditional medicine or food program, carvings and traditional art and a traditional sports program.

“The First Nations Education Steering Committee appreciates this important expansion of the External Credentials Program to respect the important work being done by First Nations to promote our students’ language and culture skills and knowledge,” said First Nations Education Steering Committee president Tyrone McNeil. “This change is a meaningful part of our ongoing partnership with the Ministry of Education and Child Care to make the B.C. education system more relevant and responsive to our students and our communities.”

Some of the external credentials may count for credit toward required courses for the B.C. Dogwood Diploma, for example, arts education or applied design, while others may count as credit toward elective courses for graduation. Certain external credentials can also provide credits toward the adult graduation diploma.

The expansion of the ECP allows other new organizations and credentials to be recognized and this is the first time there have been significant changes since 2010.

The new changes to the ECP are separate from the Province’s Indigenous-focused graduation requirement, which will require all students to take four credits of Indigenous courses to graduate, starting in the 2023–2024 school year.

RELATED: Indigenous-focused coursework to be a high school graduation requirement in B.C.