Ministers of Education initiate national dialogue



    TORONTO, Feb. 26 /CNW/ - Ministers of Education from across Canada met in
Toronto and agreed to new initiatives to promote and enhance their key
priorities: Aboriginal education, literacy, and postsecondary education
capacity.

    Aboriginal Education

    Ministers believe that eliminating the education gap between Aboriginal
and non-Aboriginal peoples is an economic and moral necessity. To that end,
ministers will host a summit in 2009 on improving Aboriginal achievement
rates. "We are committed to ensuring that all people have access to quality
education. In a global economy, we need every Canadian achieving his or her
full potential," stated the Honourable Kelly Lamrock, Chair of CMEC, and
Minister of Education for New Brunswick. The event will bring together
Aboriginal education stakeholders to explore ways of improving the educational
success of Canada's Aboriginal peoples, including First Nations, Métis, and
Inuit. Ministers are committed to partnering with Aboriginal peoples to
support their life-long learning. Ministers met with Phil Fontaine, Grand
Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, David Chartrand, President of the
Manitoba Métis Federation and Vice-President of the Métis National Council and
the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University
of Winnipeg to discuss the recent Aboriginal University Education Roundtable.

    Literacy - More Than Words

    Ministers declare that every Canadian must have the opportunity to
acquire the highest quality literacy skills to sustain them throughout life.
Ministers furthered plans for Literacy - More Than Words, a national forum on
improving Canada's literacy rates. The forum will be held simultaneously in
cities across Canada on April 14-15, 2008, and will take advantage of the
latest technology to create a virtual community, where all participants will
be able to listen to and interact with keynote speakers in real time. A first
for Canada, the Forum's unique structure and format will ensure that literacy
becomes a national conversation. A number of high profile Canadians, including
the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and the Honourable Frank McKenna, will
be speaking at the event.

    Postsecondary Education Capacity

    Ministers recognize the importance of postsecondary education in creating
the highly skilled workforce needed for a vigorous, competitive
knowledge-based economy. "It is essential for our economic well-being that we
create more opportunities for Canadians to attend our postsecondary
institutions," said Minister Lamrock. Ministers recognize that the respective
responsibilities and interests of provinces, territories, and the federal
government converge in this area. They will continue to urge the federal
government to increase its financial contribution to postsecondary education
through fiscal transfer as stated by the premiers at the 2005 meeting of the
Council of the Federation. Ministers agreed to develop a data and information
strategy to further define the gaps between the skills Canadians will need in
the future and the capacity of the postsecondary education system to deliver
them.
    Ministers call on the federal government to continue and enhance
financial assistance for students.
    Ministers will hold their next meeting in Fredericton, New Brunswick in
fall 2008.

    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: Colin Bailey, Tel.: (416) 962-8100, ext. 259,
E-mail: c.bailey@cmec.ca, Web site: www.cmec.ca

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Council of Ministers of Education, Canada

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