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Education Services Agreements (ESAs) are agreements between provincial school boards or public charter schools and First Nations, or the federal government on behalf of First Nations, to enable First Nations students living on-reserve to attend provincial schools. The Alberta government is not party to ESA negotiations or the agreements.
When negotiating or renewing an existing ESA, provincial school boards and public charter schools shall at minimum address certain items specified in the ESA standards set by the Alberta government. These standards:
- put students at the center of decision-making by focusing on students learning needs, culture, language, identity and unique circumstances;
- foster collaboration, coordination and a sense of shared responsibility among education partners;
- set consistent minimum standards for the topics that must be addressed;
- help First Nations and provincial school boards address areas of typical concern to proactively meet local needs of First Nations students;
- outline the supports necessary for First Nations student success; and
- strengthen accountability for the education of First Nations students residing on-reserve while attending provincial schools.
ESA standards apply only to provincial school boards and public charter schools. First Nations are not required to adhere to ESA standards, but Alberta Education acknowledges that they are impacted as parties to the agreements.
The standards were developed from 2014 to 2022 with feedback from numerous partners, including First Nations, provincial school boards, the College of Alberta School Superintendents, the Alberta School Boards Association and the federal government.
The government shared several drafts of the ESA standards with these partners and asked for their perspective on how the standards could be strengthened to benefit students. We received written and verbal feedback through numerous in-person sessions and virtual town halls. Alberta Education followed up via phone and email with those partners who were not able to attend group sessions or town halls to ensure everyone had an opportunity to provide feedback.
The government updated the draft standards to reflect all the feedback received as well as the most recent changes in the education system, and we released a new version for further review in 2021. After this final round of engagement, the government updated the standards again to incorporate further feedback, and in 2022, Ministerial Order (#015/2022) was issued to officially establish the new standards.
The standards have a built-in review period to ensure they are working for parties as intended. Three years after the standards come into effect, the Alberta government will conduct a review, including another round of input from First Nations and school boards and other partners and stakeholders.
Feedback during the review period will help determine the standards’ effectiveness, inform any needed changes and guide future program and policy decisions.
There are resources available for school boards, public charter schools and First Nations implementing ESAs.
Standards, policy and legislation
- Ministerial Order (#015/2022) on Standards for Education Services Agreements
- Education Act (Section 63)
- Guide to Education
- Professional Practice Standards
- Successful Practices in First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education: Collaborative Frameworks Building Relationships Companion Resource
- Guide to strengthen collaborative processes between school authorities, parents, communities and other stakeholders as they work together to improve education outcomes of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students.
- Guide to Relationships and Learning with Indigenous Peoples of Alberta (College of Alberta School Superintendents)
- Guide to support members, as system leaders, to deepen their understanding of foundational knowledge of the Indigenous Peoples.
- Funding manual for school authorities
- Education projected operational funding
- Indigenous Services Canada policy and funding approach for First Nations K-12 education
Connect with the First Nation Métis and Inuit Education Directorate:
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free by first dialing: 310-0000
Email: [email protected]
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