OROMOCTO (CNB) – An Enhanced First Nation Education Programs and Services Agreement, providing approximately $380,000 annually, was signed today by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, School District 17 and the Oromocto First Nation.

"It is important for us to improve support for First Nations students in our public schools,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Jody Carr. “ It is well documented that we must do more to close the existing gap. We must also do more to promote First Nations culture, language and customs within our schools to foster an improved relationship of understanding and respect for diversity.”

The agreement will facilitate a joint decision-making relationship between the Oromocto First Nation and School District 17, allowing for employment of additional First Nations personnel and providing programs and services specific to children from that First Nation.

"This enhancement agreement is critical to ensuring the current and future success of our students," said Roger Atwin, chief of the Oromocto First Nation. "Funding for support services in areas such as literacy, guidance and transition is critical as is the need to support language and culture learning opportunities within the school environment."

The agreement provides for an additional investment by the provincial government equal to 50 per cent of the tuitions paid by the Oromocto First Nation for students attending public schools and will be targeted specifically to support First Nation education initiatives. The agreement will be effective until the last day of the 2012-13 school year.

A Joint Enhancement Committee – representative of school, school district and First Nations partners – will determine how best to support the First Nations students with the increased targeted funding.

Although many support services are administered directly for First Nations students, it is expected that all students will benefit from the enhanced initiatives being encouraged under this agreement.

This agreement is the 17th between the provincial government and First Nations communities. Thirteen anglophone and three francophone agreements are in effect in 16 First Nations communities.