Ministers put education at the forefront of the economic recovery

TORONTO, March 5 /CNW/ - Canada's education ministers were in Toronto this week for the 97th meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), where they worked to further advance commitments made in their 2008 declaration, Learn Canada 2020.

"We recognize the importance of education and literacy to our economic recovery and to the future prosperity of all Canadians," said the Honourable Diane McGifford, Chair of CMEC and Minister of Advanced Education and Literacy for Manitoba. "Knowledge and skills are the road map to Canada's long-term social and economic well-being."

Building on the legacy of the CMEC Summit on Aboriginal Education, held in 2009, ministers of education approved work to date and provided additional direction on the post-summit pan-Canadian action plan which includes:

    
    -  Work on Aboriginal data and assessment;
    -  Active engagement with the Government of Canada on federal funding for
       Aboriginal education.
    

It was agreed that this work would be undertaken in line with unique needs of each jurisdiction and in full respect for provincial/territorial and Aboriginal autonomy. They also discussed further work to be done to engage with National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs). CMEC will be coordinating its efforts with those of ministers of Aboriginal affairs.

International education was another priority for ministers at the Toronto meeting. CMEC represents Canada's collective interests on education-related international matters at bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Ministers discussed CMEC's role as the voice for education on the international stage and approved an international education strategy to:

    
    -  Reaffirm CMEC's leadership through enhanced and focused participation
       in international education bodies;
    -  Explore additional opportunities for provinces and territories to
       engage internationally;
    -  Promote provincial and territorial education systems and institutions,
       and attract more international students to Canada, notably through the
       use of the new education brand, Imagine Education au/in Canada.
    

Ministers continued their work to ensure that our postsecondary education systems are well placed to respond to the current and future needs of all Canadians. CMEC is continuing to work collaboratively with provincial and territorial finance ministers on the issue of postsecondary funding. "Substantial, predictable, stable, ongoing federal support for postsecondary education, delivered according to the priorities of provinces and territories, is a fundamental component of Canada's future economic productivity and social wealth," said Minister McGifford. "Funding postsecondary education is a down payment on a better future for all Canadians."

While at their meeting, ministers also recommitted to CMEC's flagship assessment programs. Grade-8 students across Canada will undergo an assessment of their skills in mathematics, reading, and science this spring through the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP). The end of the year will see the release of the latest results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a major international assessment conducted by OECD.

Discussion on the other priorities outlined in Learn Canada 2020, including literacy, education data and research, official languages, and education for sustainable development, also took place.

Finally, ministers agreed that their next meeting would be in Winnipeg in fall 2010.

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.

SOURCE Council of Ministers of Education, Canada

For further information: For further information: Colin Bailey, Cell: (416) 308-2380, Tel.: (416) 962-8100, ext. 259, E-mail: c.bailey@cmec.ca

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