Improving Access To Higher Education For Rural Students In Southern Ontario


    Distance E-Learning Technology To Benefit Students In Small Communities

    ORLEANS, ON, March 6 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is creating more
opportunities for students from small and rural communities to access high
school, college and university courses by establishing a distance education
and training network in southern Ontario, Chris Bentley, Minister of Training,
Colleges and Universities, announced today.
    "No matter where a student may live in Ontario, they deserve access to
opportunity through postsecondary education," said Bentley at a distance
education demonstration at Cairine Wilson Secondary School in Orléans. "That's
why our government is building on the award-winning distance education and
training network in northern Ontario to create a similar one for students
living in small and rural communities in southern Ontario."
    The McGuinty government is investing almost $1.2 million by 2007-08 to
implement a distance education and training network in southern Ontario.
Contact North/Contact Nord, northern Ontario's distance education and training
network, will help implement the new network. For more than 20 years, the
organization has been using advanced technology to bring high school, college
and university programs and courses in English and French to students living
in small and remote northern communities.
    "I am very pleased that this program will be extended to Orléans so that
our community will have access to postsecondary education right here at home,"
said Phil McNeely, MPP Ottawa-Orléans. "We're putting opportunities for
postsecondary education and training right at the fingertips of our youth."
    This initiative is part of the McGuinty government's plan to invest
$15 million in 2006-07 - rising to $55 million in 2009-10 - to help community
organizations and postsecondary institutions deliver programs that improve
access for francophones, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and
those who would be the first in their families to attend college or
university. Special focus is also being given to ensure residents of rural
communities have expanded and enhanced access to postsecondary education and
training opportunities.
    "More students from small and rural Ontario communities will now be able
to access our university's world-class teaching expertise and outstanding
programs while staying close to home," said Samy Mahmoud, President pro
tempore of Carleton University. "Along with other college and university
partners, we're excited to be a driving force in creating high quality courses
for this new initiative."Disponible en français

                              www.edu.gov.on.ca
                         www.resultsontario.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
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                 DISTANCE EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN ONTARIOMany rural and small communities are in the process of changing from a
resource-based to a knowledge-based economy which requires that their
residents have access to postsecondary education and training.
    Residents of rural communities, however, face numerous barriers accessing
postsecondary education, such as: a limited selection of courses and programs,
no technological connection to distance-learning opportunities and a lack of
programs tied to local labour market and/or economic development.
    The use of distance e-learning technology is one of the most efficient
and effective ways to quickly increase access to higher education in small and
rural communities, particularly those regions not directly served by a college
or university.
    To create even more opportunities for students, especially those in rural
communities, the Ontario government is investing almost $1.2 million by
2007-08 to implement a distance education and training network in southern
Ontario. As a first step, five access centres will be established in rural
communities in southern Ontario and it is expected that students will be able
to access postsecondary courses and programs through the new centres by
September 2007.
    The Ministry of Education invests $10.4 million to support distance
education across Ontario.
    This initiative is part of the Reaching Higher plan, a historic
$6.2 billion multi-year investment to enhance the accessibility, quality and
accountability of postsecondary education in Ontario.
    Through the plan, the government is investing $15 million in 2006-07 -
rising to $55 million in 2009-10 - to help community organizations and
postsecondary institutions deliver programs that improve access for
francophones, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and those who
would be the first in their families to attend college or university. Special
focus is also being given to ensure residents of rural communities have
expanded and enhanced access to postsecondary education and training
opportunities.
    Earlier this year, the government of Ontario announced a $1.5 million
investment to help Contact North/Contact Nord expand its award-winning
distance education and training network to over 20 new communities.
Established more than 20 years ago through a shared commitment between the
Ontario government, communities and educational institutions, the organization
is Canada's largest distance education and training network, providing access
to the courses of 14 colleges, universities and school boards in northern
Ontario though more than 85 access centres.
    At the centres, students use a combination of audioconference,
videoconference and e-learning technologies to complete courses without having
to leave their community.
    OntarioLearn.com, which is a consortium of 22 Ontario colleges, also
develops and delivers online college courses. Students can take courses from
their home or office, accessing their course at their convenience.
    Many individual colleges and universities also offer distance education
courses and programs using a variety of delivery methods.Contact:
    Tanya Blazina
    Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
    416-325-2746

    Disponible en français

                              www.edu.gov.on.ca
For further information: Sheamus Murphy, Minister's Office, (416)
325-7215; Tanya Blazina, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2746; Public
Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892