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Tuition Agreements Attacked

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FEBRUARY 1974      v04 n02 p14  
Present school agreements will have to be changed radically to reflect Indian control says education vice-president

Sol Sanderson
Sol Sanderson
Saskatoon - Before Indian control of education can become a reality in Saskatchewan the existing tuition fee, agreements used in joint schools will have to be drastically revised, according to Soloman Sanderson, first vice president in charge of education for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians.

Speaking at the F.S.I.'s All-Chiefs conference in Saskatoon recently, Mr. Sanderson said present tuition fee agreements make no provisions for consultation with band councils and parents and offer Indians no control over how their, money will be spent.

"Present agreements are tokenism at it's worst", Mr. Sanderson said, and he recommended the band councils in the province refuse to sign them. At present about 7,000 Indian children are attending joint schools in the province.

He suggested that the present system be replaced with "A grant system to have 'co-operative schools.' By a co-operative school I mean a school that is not only financed by Indians and non-Indians, but is run jointly by both groups for the educational benefit of all children. The mechanics for control can then be easily worked out."

Only in this way can the National Indian Brotherhood's Indian Control of Indian Education Policy be meaningfully implemented and the Indians Treaty right to education ensured, Mr. Sanderson said.

Commenting on Mr. Sanderson's remarks, Emil Korchinsky, Saskatchewan regional director of education with the department of Indian Affairs, said the present tuition agreements were essentially "verbal agreements" and he agreed the agreements could be greatly strengthened. The agreements should spell in clear detail the type of services children are to receive in the schools he said.

A type of agreement is possible that would not have to include the department but would be worked out entirely between band councils and unit school boards. Indian Affairs would transfer education funds to the band council to cover the cost of the agreement. This type of agreement has not yet been used in the province "but I'm sure its possible," Mr. Korchinsky said.

To effectively institute Indian control of education, will also require amendments to the Indian Act so that special regulations "can be built in to give us authority, so that we might make education needs more relevant to our needs," Mr. Sanderson said.

He, also said the role of the provincial School Committee Advisory Board and School Committees on reserves should be changed "so they interpret he education needs on our reserves and not become peddlers of Indian Affair's policy."

In the area of developing a special curriculum for Indian students, Mr. Sanderson recommended that the work be co-ordinated by the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College and that Indian people should be appointed as curriculum planners with the provincial education system.

He also suggested the F.S.I. set up a board to censor existing curriculum and remove inaccurate and prejudiced material about Indian people.

Mr. Korchinsky pointed out in implementing Indian control of education "many obstacles will have to be overcome," one of the obstacles being the need for increased financing.

Staff within the department will have to be retrained as well as Indian people and this takes additional funds he said. There re also other financial considerations such as the fact that federally owned buildings do not carry fire insurance. When bands take over the buildings they wish it insured and this takes extra funds, he said. There will also be extra costs for employee benefits and the operation expenses of school committees, Mr. Korchinsky said.

Indians will have to join with the department to convince senior government of the necessity' for these extra funds, Mr. Korchinsky said.