Generally Eclectic

Aboriginal Issues

The Aboriginal Schooling Gap

The Method

The calculation of the Aboriginal schooling gap is based on these steps.

  1. Take statistics for the number of persons sorted by various categories for the highest level of schooling obtained, from Statistics Canada's 2006 Census, for Aboriginal Canadians on and off reserve. See Statistics Canada's Census Notes.
  2. Determine target levels of schooling that would have occurred for Aboriginal Canadians on and off reserve for the various categories, if Aboriginal Canadians on and off reserve had achieved the same levels of schooling as non-Aboriginal Canadians, as determined by the Statistics Canada's 2006 Census.
  3. For each level of schooling in the various categories used by Statistics Canada in the 2006 Census, estimate the average number of years required to achieve that level of schooling. For example, the number of years schooling required to obtain a high school certificate (grade 12) will be approximately 12. A university Bachelor's degree is likely to take on average four years more than a high school diploma. A Masters degree is likely to require two years more than a Bachelors degree, and so on. It is assumed that Aboriginal Canadians will normally require the same number of years to achieve a particular level of schooling as non-Aboriginal Canadians. The one category where this may not be the case is for the category "no certificate, diploma or degree", where Aboriginal Canadians, particularly those on reserve, may have dropped out of school at an earlier age than non-Aboriginal Canadians. If this is true, than the schooling gap for Aboriginal Canadians will be greater than estimated here.
  4. For each schooling category used by Statistics Canada, multiply the average number of years required to achieve the particular level of schooling times the actual number of Aboriginal Canadians on and off reserve that achieved that level of schooling, according to the 2006 Census, and total the individual items in the various categories to determine an estimate for the actual total years in school for Aboriginal Canadians on and off reserve.
  5. For each schooling category used by Statistics Canada, multiply the average number of years required to achieve the particular level of schooling by the estimated number of Aboriginal Canadians on and off reserve required to have that level of schooling, if Aboriginal Canadians received the same level of schooling as other Canadians, and total the individual items in the various categories to determine an estimate for the "target" number of years of school for Aboriginal Canadians on and off reserve, if they had received the same level of schooling as non-Aboriginal Canadians.
  6. Subtract the estimated total number of school years for Aboriginal Canadians on and off reserve, from the "target" total number of school years, to determine the schooling gap, measured in years of schooling.
  7. Attempt to put the schooling gap in a more understandable context.

The Data

Aboriginal On Reserve

Highest Level of Schooling Obtained Aboriginal On Reserve Target Based on Non-Aboriginal Canadians Average Number of Years of Schooling Involved Actual Schooling Years Target Schooling Years Schooling Gap
Total - Highest certificate, diploma or degree [4] 204,060 204,060
No certificate, diploma or degree 121,430 47,141 10 1,214,300 471,414 -742,886
High school certificate or equivalent [5] 30,370 52,360 12 364,440 628,322 263,882
Apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma 19,725 22,111 13 256,425 287,438 31,013
College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma [6] 20,865 35,451 14 292,110 496,313 204,203
University certificate or diploma below bachelor level 5,535 9,145 15 83,025 137,171 54,146
Bachelor's degree 4,440 24,211 16 71,040 387,375 316,335
University certificate or diploma above bachelor level 995 4,007 17 16,915 68,123 51,208
Degree in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or optometry 40 1,119 21 840 23,496 22,656
Master's degree 550 7,072 18 9,900 127,287 117,387
Earned doctorate 110 1,444 20 2,200 28,870 26,670
Total 2,311,195 2,655,811 344,616

Aboriginal Off Reserve

Highest Level of Schooling Obtained Aboriginal Off Reserve Target Based on Non-Aboriginal Canadians Average Number of Years of Schooling Involved Actual Schooling Years Target Schooling Years Schooling Gap
Total - Highest certificate, diploma or degree [4] 619,815 619,815
No certificate, diploma or degree 238,350 143,188 10 2,383,500 1,431,880 -951,620
High school certificate or equivalent [5] 149,215 159,040 12 1,790,580 1,908,476 117,896
Apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma 74,160 67,159 13 964,080 873,068 -91,012
College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma [6] 98,810 107,679 14 1,383,340 1,507,509 124,169
University certificate or diploma below bachelor level 17,415 27,776 15 261,225 416,646 155,421
Bachelor's degree 29,815 73,539 16 477,040 1,176,619 699,579
University certificate or diploma above bachelor level 4,740 12,172 17 80,580 206,919 126,339
Degree in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or optometry 605 3,398 21 12,705 71,368 58,663
Master's degree 5,605 21,479 18 100,890 386,625 285,735
Earned doctorate 1,110 4,385 20 22,200 87,691 65,491
Total 7,476,140 8,066,800 590,660

The Story Behind the Data

The following observations flow from the data:

  1. The schooling gap for Aboriginal Canadians on reserve was 344,616 school years, based on the 2006 Census enumeration, which was incomplete according to Statistics Canada.
  2. The schooling gap per capita was 1.69 years. Put another way, to close the 2006 gap, every Aboriginal person on reserve would need to spend another 1.69 years in school.
  3. Assuming the minimum total cost of a year in school for an Aboriginal adult Canadian was at least $15,000, the minimum amount of funding needed to close the 2006 gap would be approximately $5.16 billion.
  4. The schooling gap for Aboriginal Canadians off reserve was 590,660 school years, based on the 2006 Census.
  5. The schooling gap per capita was 0.95 years. In other words, to close the gap, every Aboriginal Canadian off reserve would need to spend almost a full year in school,
  6. The minimum total cost of closing the 2006 gap would be approximately $8.60 billion, assuming the cost of a year in school for an Aboriginal adult Canadian was at least $15,000.
  7. While the schooling gap off reserve was greater than the schooling gap on reserve (590,660 school years off reserve versus 344,616 school years on reserve), the schooling requirements per capita were greater on reserve than off (1.69 school years per capita on reserve versus 0.95 school years off reserve.
  8. The total cost of rectifying the 2006 schooling gap on and off reserve would be approximately $13.76 billion.


Census Notes

  1. Excludes Census data for one or more incompletely enumerated Indian reserves or Indian settlements.
  2. Included in the Aboriginal population are those persons who reported identifying with at least one Aboriginal group, that is, North American Indian, Métis or Inuit, and/or those who reported being a Treaty Indian or a Registered Indian, as defined by the Indian Act, and/or those who reported they were members of an Indian band or First Nation.[
  3. Users should be aware that the counts for this item are more affected than most by the incomplete enumeration of certain Indian reserves and Indian settlements. The extent of the impact will depend on the geographic area under study. In 2006, a total of 22 Indian reserves and Indian settlements were incompletely enumerated by the Census. The populations of these 22 communities were not included in the Census counts.
  4. 'Highest certificate, diploma or degree' refers to the highest certificate, diploma or degree completed based on a hierarchy which is generally related to the amount of time spent 'in-class'. For post secondary completers, a university education is considered to be a higher level of schooling than a college education, while a college education is considered to be a higher level of education than in the trades. Although some trades requirements may take as long or longer to complete than a given college or university program, the majority of time is spent in on-the-job paid training and less time is spent in the classroom.
  5. 'High school certificate or equivalent' includes persons who have graduated from a secondary school or equivalent. Excludes persons with a post secondary certificate, diploma or degree. Examples of post secondary institutions include community colleges, institutes of technology, CEGEPs, private trade schools, private business colleges, schools of nursing and universities.
  6. 'College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma' replaces the category 'Other non university certificate or diploma' in previous Censuses. This category includes accreditation by non degree-granting institutions such as community colleges, CEGEPs, private business colleges and technical institutes.

Source: Statistics Canada - 2006 Census. Catalogue Number 97-560-XCB2006031.

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