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Closing the education gap: A case for Aboriginal early childhood education in Canada, a look at the Aboriginal Headstart Program

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Canadian Journal of Education, 34(3), 229 - 248.
Nguyen, Mai
Publication Date: 
30 Nov 2011


This paper raises awareness concerning the education gap between Aboriginal youth and the  non-Aboriginal youth population in Canada. It argues that the historical consequences of colonialism that resulted in diminished sense of self-worth, self-determination, and culture have placed Aboriginals at the low-end of the socio-economic strata. This continuing phenomenon has meant that Aboriginal youth perform far worse than non- Aboriginals in terms of their ability to obtain higher education and employment. Given this, using welfare-state theory and  Indigenous-based theory I argue that early-childhood education which is culturally sensitive to the needs of Aboriginal children and controlled by Aboriginal communities will help to remedy and close the education gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth. The paper concludes with solutions to rectify the situation in Canada. Specifically, it discusses the current government  initiative, Aboriginal Head Start (AHS), that has been making significant strides throughout the  Aboriginal community.