Improving Access To Higher Education For Students In Prescott-Russell



    Distance E-Learning Technology To Bring Courses To Students Locally

    PLANTAGENET, ON, June 27 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is creating more
opportunities for students in the Prescott and Russell area to access college
and university courses by establishing a new distance education access centre,
Chris Bentley, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, announced
today at Ecole secondaire catholique de Plantagenet.
    "Our new access centre is another example of our government's commitment
to improve access to postsecondary education for young people in rural eastern
Ontario," said Jean-Marc Lalonde, MPP Glengarry, Prescott, Russell, who joined
Bentley for the announcement at the high school.
    "This innovative project will allow students in Plantagenet and
surrounding communities to take college and university courses without
travelling a long way to a postsecondary institution," said Bentley. "We're
putting opportunities for postsecondary education and training right at the
fingertips of our youth."
    The new distance education access centre, to be established in a
community within Prescott-Russell, is being supported by a $1.5 million
investment this year. This is part of $7.4 million in support from 2006 to
2010 to implement a new network serving small or rural southern Ontario
communities. The new centre will be dedicated to providing real-time online
postsecondary opportunity to the francophone community. So far, access centres
have been announced for Madoc, Wallaceburg, Kincardine and Orleans.
    "This new postsecondary education access centre in Prescott-Russell means
more graduates of our schools will be able to access a broad range of high
quality, French-language college and university programming close to home,"
said Martial Levac, chairperson of the Conseil scolaire catholique de l'Est
d'Ontarien. "We look forward to the establishment of the new centre and to
making this initiative a success."
    "La Cité collégiale is pleased to be the location of the new distance
education access centre for Eastern Ontario," said Andrée Lortie, President of
La Cité Collégiale. "With this new initiative the government of Ontario will
improve access to postsecondary education in French for the French-speaking
community of Eastern Ontario."
    The new network will be implemented by Contact North/Contact Nord, which
has used advanced technology to bring high school, college and university
programs in English and French to students living in small and remote northern
communities for more than 20 years.
    This initiative is part of the McGuinty government's plan to invest $20
million in 2007-08, 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.

    
    Disponible en français

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



    Backgrounder
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                 DISTANCE EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN ONTARIO
    

    Many rural and small communities are in the process of changing from a
resource-based to a knowledge-based economy. This 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 $7.4 million from 2006-2010,
including $1.5 million this year, 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. 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 will raise investment from $20 million
in 2007-08 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.
    Last 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. The organization was
established more than 20 years ago through a shared commitment between the
Ontario government, communities and educational institutions. It is Canada's
largest distance education and training network, providing access to the
courses of 14 colleges, universities and school boards in northern Ontario
through 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.
    In addition, the Ministry of Education has funded one teacher per
French-language school board across Ontario to support the deliver of online
courses through Apprentissage électronique Ontario.
    Many individual colleges and universities also offer distance education
courses and programs using a variety of delivery methods.

    
    Disponible en français

                              www.edu.gov.on.ca
    





For further information:

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

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Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

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