KiHS - the new First Nations High School reaching across NAN Visit Website
Story published in the Feb 7, 2002 Wawatay News
By : Keewaytinook Okimakanak Staff Contribution

If you stay in the north, how do you ever get to meet people from other places? You meet them online, of course.

Learning at home is what youth in KiHS classrooms have chosen to do. Rather than leaving their families and "going away" to school, they are staying at home to work. KiHS (the Keewaytinook Internet High School) and their community leaders are helping them have this choice.

The community KiHS classroom is a space identified by community leaders. It is "wired" for Internet access, and is staffed by a trained teacher and a community computer technician. One of the student's courses is taught by the onsite teacher, - although the lessons come to the students via the Internet. Other KiHS teachers in similar First Nation classrooms teach the other courses that a KiHS student takes.

Students in provincial schools sometimes have trouble getting good access to a computer. However, KiHS students have access on a 1:1 basis. "Outsiders were afraid that KiHS students could not handle the computers," reports one KiHS teacher. "On the contrary, I have learned lots of quick computer tricks from the students in my classroom."

This year, students in Cat Lake, Fort Severn, Frenchman's Head, Keewaywin, Kejick Bay and Slate Falls have welcomed the KiHS program. KiHS is in its second year of operation. It is regularly trying new ideas to make learning via computer user friendly but still give students provincially accredited courses.

This semester, KiHS is trying condensed courses to accommodate learners who have bursts of high energy and concentration. Students take only two courses at a time for nine weeks. Within 2 ½ months, they can earn two credits towards their secondary school diploma.

Grade 9 is now soundly established. A core of successful students who have completed the grade 9 program continue to live in their communities. When one was asked why he didn't carry on his education, he replied, "I'm waiting for grade 10 KiHS to arrive." The school hopes to meet his needs in September, 2002 with a full grade 10 program.

KiHS is ideal for the small community that otherwise could only afford one teacher at the high school level. With KiHS, students get the expertise of many teachers. The use of the computer is a spin-off benefit. Students who are avid hunters or who believe in remaining with their extended family also get maximum benefit from the latest information technology. It is the best of both worlds.

While financial administration of the high school is under the auspices of Keewaytinook Okimakanak, direction for the high school increasingly falls in the hands of a steering committee composed of one member from each participating community. Meeting Ministry of Education guidelines is a basic premise of the program. HOW it effectively accomplishes that is a task requiring ongoing input from the steering committee. The committee works to help accommodate youth who will be the community's leaders of tomorrow.

KiHS is now looking for additional partner communities for the 2002-2003 school year. With more communities becoming part of the KiHS team, the opportunities for more course offerings increase. Partnering communities need to identify a classroom and teacherage, ensure availability of gymnasium time and bussing where required, and provide support in keeping students on time and on task

Funding provided to KiHS through INAC is used to provide computer and related equipment, locate and pay for a trained teacher, and provide an infrastructure and program acceptable to the provincial Ministry of Education.

Students appear to perform best when support is evident from a variety of directions including their home, their community and the information technology which allows them doorways to the world. KiHS enables parents and youth to grow together, building capacity in the technologies that are a "must" in tomorrow's world.


Possible Pictures for this article are:

Map showing the 2001-2002 KiHS classroom and office sites

Bob Nault visiting the KiHS classroom in Keewaywin First Nation

Marlene McKay and her KiHS class at Frenchman's Head