Canada's ministers of education meet to discuss priority issues



    SASKATOON, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - Canada's ministers of education were in
Saskatoon today for the 95th meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education,
Canada (CMEC). Ministers discussed progress on a number of their priorities
including Aboriginal education, postsecondary education, and literacy, all
three of which are key components of ministers' April 2008 joint declaration,
Learn Canada 2020.

    Aboriginal education

    The meeting of ministers of education continues tomorrow in Saskatoon
with the opening of an historic summit on Aboriginal education. Over the
course of two days, ministers will discuss ways to strengthen Aboriginal
success in education with leaders of pan-Canadian and regional Aboriginal
organizations including the Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of
Aboriginal Peoples, the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and
the Native Women's Association of Canada.

    Postsecondary education

    During their meeting, ministers acknowledged the key role of
postsecondary education in maintaining Canada's economic competitiveness. They
emphasized the importance of substantial, predictable, stable, and ongoing
federal funding for postsecondary education to meet current and emerging
needs. Ministers are seeking a long-term increase in federal financial
investments and, as the Council of the Federation has stated, "an adequate
level of federal funding through the Canada Social Transfer (CST)."
    Ministers acknowledged the up to $2 billion recently announced in the
federal budget for repairs, renovations, and expansion of postsecondary
institutions. Ministers noted the federal government's recognition of the need
to provide short-term labour market stimulus and to generate long-term,
structural economic benefits associated with the knowledge economy. Ministers
urged the federal government to respect provincial/territorial responsibility
for education and their priorities, when allocating infrastructure funding.
    "Federal investment addresses urgent needs in postsecondary education,
but provinces and territories reiterate the importance of a permanent increase
to the Canada Social Transfer to fund their priorities and operating costs on
an ongoing basis," said the Honourable Kelly Lamrock, Chair of CMEC and
Minister of Education for New Brunswick
    CMEC considers that today's postsecondary students form an important part
of the future of Canada. Offering them the support of strong postsecondary
systems is a key element for Canada's economic competitiveness.
    Ministers further noted that the federal government needs to consider the
special circumstances of territorial governments in Canada in meeting their
postsecondary requirements.

    Literacy

    Ministers of education reiterated their dedication to improve the
literacy levels of Canadians. Through its leadership, CMEC is raising
awareness, building partnerships, and leveraging access to resources and
services.
    Following the success of the first ever pan-Canadian conversation on
literacy, CMEC is engaging with literacy organisations, and other partners, to
enable Canadians of all ages to develop their skills and improve their lives.
"Literacy is more than words. It is the path to knowledge, opportunity, and
full participation in society," said Minister Lamrock.
    CMEC is an intergovernmental body composed of the ministers responsible
for elementary-secondary and advanced education from the provinces and
territories. Through CMEC, ministers share information and undertake projects
in areas of mutual interest and concern.





For further information:

For further information: Information: Tamara Davis, Coordinator,
Communications, Cell: (416) 804-6548, Tel.: (416) 962-8100, ext. 241, E-mail:
t.davis@cmec.ca, Web site: www.cmec.ca

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Council of Ministers of Education, Canada

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