The report by the three-member task force makes 25 recommendations to improve education and employment outcomes for First Nations and Metis people. One recommendation is that the province should fund driver education training for Saskatchewan students attending schools on reserves.
"Well, if you don't have a licence, you can't work," said task force chairman Gary Merasty.
"It's absolutely critical. I can't think of any job virtually in Saskatchewan that does not require a licence either to get you to work or as part of your duties."
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations vice-chief Simon Bird says driver education is a practical solution.
"It's going to be a win-win not only for the students themselves, but for the economy," said Bird.
"We keep talking about long-term investment and something as simple, as many people would like to think so, is not so simple when it comes to...who is going to put the investment on paper and right into our First Nations schools."
The report also offers suggestions for an early childhood strategy, literacy, education funding and skills training.
The task force says it heard from people about the limited availability of reading material — books, newspapers, magazines and Internet. It says the lack of literacy skills impacts daily life, health and education outcomes and employment opportunities.
The group says it also heard numerous statements about the disparities in educational funding between reserve schools and provincial schools and that difficulties have been compounded by years of underfunding. One recommendation is that the province, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and First Nations education authorities examine the level of pre-kindergarten to grade 12 funding provided for Saskatchewan.
Another is that the province expand adult basic education, particularly on reserves.
The federal government did not take part in the task force, but the report nonetheless makes recommendations for Ottawa, too. It says the feds should increase funding for the post-secondary student support program in order to keep pace with the rising costs of living and the increasing number of First Nations and Metis students.
The task force also recommends that all post-secondary institutions work with employers to better align job needs and program offerings.
"We set up the report so that there's short, medium and long-term goals that can be achieved and certainly I think some of the short-term goals are very realistic," said Merasty.
Bird says the information has to be acted upon. He says the province and First Nations people can't afford to go through another generation without change.
"The status quo is not acceptable," said Bird.
"We can't go on and expect better results for the territory we call Saskatchewan, which we all share, without having to invest seriously in our First Nations students."
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall hinted that some action on the recommendations could come soon.
Wall told the legislature Monday that driver education "is obviously pretty key for young First Nations people, First Nations of all ages to be engaged in the economy."
"It's one small recommendation. We might be able to move on that very quickly," Wall said.Suggest a correction