10/09/2012 08:46 EDT | Updated 12/09/2012 05:12 EST

First Nations group accuses Ottawa of underfunding aboriginal schools

SASKATOON - A vice-chief with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations says the federal government isn't telling the truth about education funding.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said in a news release last week that the federal government gives First Nations schools $14,000 per year per student.

Federation vice-chief Simon Bird said Tuesday on-reserve schools receive considerably less than that — about $6,500 per student per year.

Bird says that's about $4,000 less than what the province pays per student in its education system.

He says if Ottawa continues to underfund First Nations education, it will only result in bigger problems down the road.

Bird is inviting Duncan to come to Saskatchewan and see first-hand the state of aboriginal schools.

"If he doesn't, then I would seriously ask him to take a look at his numbers again and come up with a solution — something that we can work on together."

The federal government spends about $1.7 billion a year on First Nations elementary and secondary education.

There are more than 15,000 students enrolled in band-operated schools in Saskatchewan.