News release

Minister Receives Review of Programs Supporting African Nova Scotian Students

A report examining the effectiveness of a wide range of educational programs and supports for African Nova Scotian students was presented to Education Minister Marilyn More today, Dec. 10.

Reality Check, by educator and international consultant Enid Lee, makes 30 key recommendations aimed to improve opportunity and achievement for Nova Scotia's estimated 4,000 students of African ancestry.

The findings are based on extensive consultations with educators, parents, school boards, Education Department officials, community groups and race relations officials, as well as numerous school visits and classroom observations.

"This review will give us valuable insight into what is working and where we can improve," said Ms. More. "We want to help all students reach their full potential, and this report and feedback on it can help us do just that."

Ms. Lee was appointed in October 2008 to examine the progress made since the implementation of the Black Learners Advisory Committee Report: Redressing Inequity and Empowering Black Learners.

The BLAC Report, a landmark document for education in Nova Scotia when it was delivered to government in 1994, contained recommendations to eliminate institutional racism in the education system and to improve opportunity for African Nova Scotians.

Ms. Lee's report looked specifically at 12 key program areas administered by the Department of Education and its African Canadian Services division, school boards, the Council of African Canadian Education and the Black Educator's Association.

"Nowhere in Canada is there such a unique, layered and ambitious structure for redressing educational inequity as in the province of Nova Scotia," said Ms. Lee. "However, the question we need to answer is, is this structure working as it should for African Nova Scotian students?

"Effective programs and services are making a positive difference in the academic achievement of African Nova Scotian students, however, institutional barriers and realties may prevent access and limit achievement."

The study found that the number of African Nova Scotian students attending higher education institutions increased steadily over the last four years, from 246 in 2004 to 378 last year.

It also found that in many schools across Nova Scotia, students are benefitting from Afrocentric curriculum choices, such as African Canadian Studies 11 and English 12: African Heritage, and praised the Student Support Worker program for its effectiveness and its positive influence on African Nova Scotia learners.

However, the study also found a lack of sound data on the performance of African Nova Scotian students, making it a challenge to accurately determine how well black students are doing.

Concerns were raised over the perception that too many African Nova Scotian learners are on Individual Program Plans, which are seen as a potential barrier to accessing important academic programs and scholarships. It also found the caseloads of student support workers may be too high.

A major recommendation is that school boards collect information on student achievement by racial background and on the kind of opportunities that allow them to learn and do well in school.

"With an estimated 4,000 African Nova Scotian students across the province, this number is small enough to put our arms around and close enough to take to heart," said Ms. Lee.

The public is invited to comment on the report and recommendations, which can be viewed at www.ednet.ns.ca .

The deadline for public input is Jan. 29. Interested individuals can respond to the report by e-mail to , by fax to 902-424-0519 or by writing to the Department of Education, Corporate Policy Branch, P.O. Box 578, Halifax, N.S., B3J 2S9.

The minister will provide a formal response to the report this spring.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

A report examining the effectiveness of a range of educational programs and supports for African Nova Scotian students was presented to Education Minister Marilyn More today (December 10th).

Reality Check, by educator Enid Lee who consults internationally, makes 30 key recommendations aimed at improving opportunities and achievement for Nova Scotia's 4,000 students of African ancestry.

The report comes after extensive consultations with educators, parents, school boards, community groups and race relations officials, as well as numerous school visits and classroom observations.

The public is invited to comment on the report and its recommendations. It can be viewed online on the Department of Education website.

The deadline for public input is January 29th. The minister will provide a formal response to the report this spring.

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Media Contact:

Peter McLaughlin
Department of Education 902-424-8307 E-mail: