Each SUNTEP Indigenous teaching grad boosts Sask. economy by $11M: report – Saskatoon

According to a new report by U of S economist Eric Howe, teachers educated through the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) are worth their weight in gold — assuming the average weight of a North American is 180 pounds.

“To buy 180 pounds of gold will cost you a lot of money — $3.2 million,” said Howe.

“The economic impact of a graduate of SUNTEP, their effect on the prosperity of the province, even in the low scenario, the lowest number I got was $11 million.”

Howe’s report is called SUNTEP: An investment in Saskatchewan’s prosperity. 

Teachers have been trained through SUNTEP since the 1980s and are offered smaller class sizes and special support. The number of Indigenous teachers in Saskatchewan has grown as a result.

“The teachers are learning their foundation, the base of who they are. They have a good identity,” said Norman Fleury, a Métis elder who guest lectures at the University of Saskatchewan’s education program.

“It can be carried on in terms of the children. They’ll know who they are.”

Norman Fleury, a lecturer in the University of Saskatchewan’s education program, is a graduate of a program similar to SUNTEP. He believes the opportunity was integral to his academic and professional success. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

Howe calls this the “role model effect,” when Indigenous teachers inspire their students to continue on with their education.

To quantify the effect, Howe organized the data into three scenarios, differing by teacher impact: low, medium, and high impacts.

“A given teacher would affect a student once every 10 years in the low scenario, and once every two years in the high.”

The increase in lifetime earnings of students influenced by teachers from the SUNTEP program was $1.2 billion, on the low end.

Bridging the gap for Indigenous learners – and women

Howe measures the benefit of closing the employment and education gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in dollars.

The lifetime earnings of non-Indigenous people who obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher are approximately $1.8 million for males and $1.7 million for females.

For Indigenous people at the top end of the education spectrum, potential earnings are approximately $100,000 less than those of non-Indigenous people.

Métis men have the highest potential lifetime earnings at almost $2 million with a bachelor’s degree.

At the other end of the spectrum, female Indigenous high school dropouts have…

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