Ministers build on Learn Canada 2020 vision



    CALGARY, Sept. 3 /CNW/ - The 96th meeting of the Council of Ministers of
Education, Canada, concluded today in Calgary. Ministers discussed progress on
a number of their priorities including, improving student success, Aboriginal
education, literacy, postsecondary education, and education data and research,
all of which are key components of ministers' April 2008 joint declaration,
Learn Canada 2020. While in Calgary, ministers also took part in events and
activities at WorldSkills Calgary 2009, an international skills and trades
competition.

    Aboriginal education

    The ministers' Summit on Aboriginal Education, held last February in
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, served as a catalyst for a national dialogue on Learn
Canada 2020's goal of eliminating the achievement gap between Aboriginal and
non-Aboriginal learners.
    "We are encouraged by the success of the Summit on Aboriginal Education
and see it as an important opportunity," said Saskatchewan Deputy Premier and
Minister of Education Ken Krawetz. "It provided a forum to focus on the common
goals that unite us, such as strengthening student achievement, improving
graduation rates, and ensuring smooth career transitions. We are committed to
moving the Aboriginal education agenda forward by continuing to strengthen
national and regional partnerships."
    Ministers agreed to build on their partnerships with Aboriginal leaders
and develop a detailed action plan for provincial and territorial follow-up.
They urged the federal government to be more engaged with the Learn Canada
2020 goal of eliminating the achievement gap. Ministers further supported the
call heard at the summit for the federal government to increase support for
Aboriginal learners in Canada.

    Literacy

    Ministers discussed their continued commitment to the Learn Canada 2020
goal of raising literacy levels in Canada and the progress on CMEC 's Literacy
Action Plan. The action plan raises awareness and engages partners and
stakeholders in all jurisdictions through the sharing of best practices, the
latest research, and new policy initiatives.
    "Recognizing the importance of literacy as essential to skills
development, my colleagues and I are working together and with partners from
all sectors to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to gain the
range of skills and expertise, such as those showcased here at WorldSkills,"
said the Honourable Diane McGifford, Minister of Advanced Education and
Literacy for Manitoba.

    Postsecondary education capacity

    Canada has one of the best systems of postsecondary education in the
world. Maintaining that world-class standard is the key to a strong economy
and strong communities, and to ensuring the well-being of all Canadians.
Ministers agreed that to maintain this world-class standard will mean
recruiting top faculty, building high-quality infrastructure, developing a
national strategy for research and development, and ensuring postsecondary
education is affordable to all Canadians.
    Ministers affirmed that meeting these goals will require substantial,
predictable, stable, and ongoing federal support of Canada's postsecondary
education. Ministers will work with premiers to fulfill this vision of a
world-class postsecondary system.

    Education data and research

    Ministers of education emphasized the importance of high-quality, timely,
and comparable information about education systems, to report to Canadians and
to make sound decisions about education. Ministers recognized the need for
robust learning data and research strategies to keep pace with the diversity
of education systems in Canada.
    Ministers committed to a dialogue with the federal government to address
key issues, in particular, the need for stable and sustainable funding for
data and research that meets the needs of provinces and territories that are
responsible for the delivery of education.

    Meeting with OECD

    As part of CMEC's leadership role in education on the international
stage, ministers were pleased to welcome Mr. Aart de Geus and Mr. Andreas
Schleicher from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD). Discussion focused on skills for the 21st century and the importance
of evidence and research-based decision-making.

    H1N1 preparedness

    CMEC ministers have been working with their health counterparts to ensure
the safety of students, teachers, and staff in education institutions across
the country. "The health of our students is a top priority," said Minister
Diane McGifford, "Our education communities are taking the necessary
precautions to prevent the spread of H1N1."
    Ministers discussed strategies to protect institutions and committed to
keep each other informed through ongoing dialogue as plans evolve.

    New Chair of CMEC

    Ministers of education also announced the nomination of Diane McGifford
as the new Chair of CMEC. In keeping with CMEC practice, Manitoba will be the
Chair for a period of two years.
    "My colleagues and I are working together on an impressive range of
pan-Canadian activities, and I look forward to playing an active role in
continuing to put education at the top of the national agenda," said Minister
McGifford.
    Ministers also acknowledged the important contribution of the Honourable
Kelly Lamrock during the past two years as Chair of CMEC.

    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: Tamara Davis, Coordinator, Communications and
Media Relations, Cell: (416) 804-6548, Tel.: (416) 962-8100, ext. 241, E-mail:
t.davis@cmec.ca

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