The Tripartite Education Framework Agreement (TEFA) is a five-year agreement that came into effect September 1, 2012. The First Nations Schools Association and First Nations Education Steering Committee were brought into the agreement when INAC announced that they would no longer support Second Level Services to First Nations Schools. Communities and schools were told that if they opted not to sign on to TEFA that they would lose all of their second level services, this threat has since proven false, as those who opted out did not lose any services.
THE PUPOSE OF TEFA
Quoted from the FNSA website: “A fundamental component of TEFA is Canada’s commitment to a more flexible funding model for BC First Nation schools that is consistent with the BC Ministry of Education’s funding formula for public schools, with specific adaptations to reflect the unique characteristics of First Nations schools.”
The GWES membership schools opted out of TEFA because it presented many detrimental funding changes to the way our schools were funded. A few examples of the flaws with TEFA included: TEFA did not adequately address funding for Adult Education, Language and Culture Programming, Operations and Maintenance, Technology, Teacher Recruitment and Retention, or School Governance. Without these critical issues addressed, our schools stood to lose the funding that had been secured for our schools in our 5 year block funding agreement.
In preparation for TEFA 1 to expire, INAC has conducted a review of the challenges and successes of TEFA. The purpose of the review is to guide the renegotiation of TEFA and to seek ways to improve upon the original funding agreement. That report was set to be released a few months ago, but we have yet to see the results. The original agreement was signed by three bodies, INAC, BC, and FNESC (on behalf of the schools who opted in to the agreement). BC’s place at the table was not entirely clear as their only stake in the agreement appears to be the arrangement of reciprocal funding when First Nations students transfer between Provincial and First Nations Schools.
WHO IS TEFA MEANT TO SERVE?
The original agreement was meant to serve First Nations schools on reserve, but has since been reinterpreted to include all First Nations learners. It will be interesting to see how INAC deals with this issue as the Province is typically responsible for First Nations learners attending their schools, while INAC is responsible for funding First Nations Schools. Perhaps the review, once it is released, will provide the answers to these questions and perhaps this time around, the First Nations Schools themselves will play a significant role in determining their own futures. Up until this point, those decisions have largely been made by bureaucrats who lack an understanding of the work that is accomplished in our schools and what is needed to improve the educational outcomes of our students. It will be a shame if those voices are silenced once again and if our schools are forced into another agreement without proper consultation.
We will keep you updated on the status of the review once it is released. For now, you can access the PDF version of the Agreement and other publications provided by the First Nations Schools Association below:
Source for PDF Materials: http://www.fnsa.ca/tefa