Improving Access To Higher Education For Students In Wallaceburg



    Distance E-Learning Technology To Bring Courses To Students Locally

    WALLACEBURG, ON, March 13 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is creating
more opportunities for students in Wallaceburg to access college and
university courses by establishing a new distance education access centre,
Chris Bentley, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, announced
today.
    "The new access centre in Wallaceburg will allow students in the
community and the surrounding area to take college and university courses
without travelling a long way to a postsecondary institution," said Bentley at
a distance education demonstration at the Chatham Kent Public Library,
Wallaceburg Branch. "We're putting opportunities for postsecondary education
and training right at the fingertips of our youth."
    "The Wallaceburg access centre will give all my constituents - including
francophones and those living in First Nations communities - equal access to
the best learning opportunities in the world," said Maria Van Bommel, MPP
Lambton-Kent-Middlesex. "I'm happy to help bring postsecondary education
closer to home."
    "Investing in the skills and education of local residents is a top
priority for our government, as it will help improve our economy," said
Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Pat Hoy. "I'm pleased that Minister Bentley is here to
show our government's commitment extends to our smaller towns."
    The McGuinty government is investing almost $1.2 million by 2007-08 to
implement the new network. Contact North/Contact Nord, northern Ontario's
distance education and training network, will help implement the 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.
    "No matter where they may live in Ontario, students deserve access to
opportunity through postsecondary education," added Bentley. "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."
    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.
    "This announcement is representative of the initiatives this government
has taken to improve accessibility to postsecondary education," said Dr. John
Strasser, President of St. Clair College. "St. Clair College will do all that
it can to support the creation of this access centre for students in
Wallaceburg."

    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 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. 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.
    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.
    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

Organization Profile

Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

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