Since its inception, the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has had the “E” in UNESCO foremost in its vision. Education, along with science and culture, are the three pillars of UNESCO initiatives.
Through its programs, the Clayoquot Biosphere Project’s (CBT) provides financial and logistical support for a variety of educational programs, from the annual “What I Learned About My Biosphere” field trip program to the creation of Sustainability Studies 11/12 to Nuu-chah-nulth language projects.
In our inaugural issue of Vital Signs, a regional “check-up” that measures the vitality of our communities, education was a key area of interest. We collated several indicators related to learning that highlight our successes and our challenges. We know, for instance, that many of our young people are not graduating. High-school completion rates for students in our School District was 73.4% for the 2012-13 school year, markedly lower than the provincial average of 83.1%. For Aboriginal students the graduation rate was 39.4%, also lower than the provincial average of 59.6%. But there are many positive stories as well. Our schools are innovative in their desire to increase student success and the region is making great strides in early education through initiatives such as Strong Start and Family Ties. Our region is also youthful and growing, with the projected elementary school population showing sustained and steady increases. The CBT shares a common goal with education institutions and other local organizations to advance education in the region. One of the original goals of the CBT was to facilitate the sharing and exchange of knowledge. To this end, the CBT is convening education stakeholders – community leaders, educators, and other partners -for a regional learning forum on May 8. The goal of the day-long event is to share information and updates, discuss common goals, and determine opportunities to work together to advance our region’s educational aspirations. We will also take the time to broaden the regional conversation around higher learning, an initiative that has been taking place on several fronts on an ad hoc basis. If you are interested learning more about this forum or any of our other programs, please contact the office at 250-725-2219.
Adrienne Mason is the research coordinator for the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust.