Ministers advance Learn Canada 2020 priorities

    FREDERICTON, Sept. 23 /CNW/ - Education ministers committed today to
meeting with First Nation, Métis, and Inuit leaders from across Canada to
address Aboriginal education. Ministers were in Fredericton, New Brunswick,
for the 94th meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC),
where they worked on key education priorities including Aboriginal education,
literacy, and postsecondary education funding, as outlined in their April 2008
ministerial declaration, Learn Canada 2020.

    Aboriginal education - A leaders' summit in 2009

    Ministers agreed that eliminating the education gap between Aboriginal
and non-Aboriginal learners is an economic, social, and ethical necessity. To
that end, CMEC will be inviting leaders of key organizations representing
First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples, and the federal government, to their
next meeting to be hosted by Saskatchewan in February 2009.
    The goal of the February 2009 meeting is to strengthen relationships
among CMEC, leaders of national organizations representing First Nation, Métis
and Inuit peoples, and the federal government, while respecting jurisdiction
and existing agreements.
    "Across Canada, ministers work closely with First Nation, Métis, and
Inuit education partners to eliminate the achievement gap. We see Aboriginal
achievement, especially achievement for children and youth, as critical to the
future of Canada," said the Honourable Ken Krawetz, Minister of Education for

    Literacy - A pan-Canadian strategy

    Building on the momentum generated by the Pan-Canadian Interactive
Literacy Forum, which was held in April 2008, ministers furthered plans to
share ideas and lessons learned at the event to benefit educators, learners,
literacy providers, and all Canadians. The first of its kind, the forum was an
immense success that connected approximately 3,000 learners, literacy experts,
and representatives from the education, non-profit, business, and labour
sectors at nine different sites across the country.
    The CMEC Literacy Action Plan, a top priority in the ministers' recent
declaration, Learn Canada 2020, stresses sharing successful literacy policies,
research, and data across the continuum of learning. Ministers agreed at their
meeting to the next phase of their plan: a commitment to continue to engage
national stakeholders to collaborate on moving the action plan forward.
    "Ministers of education believe strongly that literacy is an essential
skill needed by all Canadians to thrive and succeed in a knowledge-based
economy and a socially progressive and sustainable society," said the
Honourable Kelly Lamrock, Chair of CMEC and Minister of Education for New

    Postsecondary education funding - 21st century funding for 21st century

    Ministers discussed the growing importance of postsecondary education for
students and the economy, and agreed to continue their efforts to secure the
federal government's recognition of the needs of the postsecondary sector in
meeting the challenges of the 21st century. Examples of ongoing challenges
demanding attention include shifting enrolment trends, infrastructure,
research and development, international education, and Aboriginal education
opportunities. To meet current and existing needs, ministers are seeking a
long-term increase in federal financial investments and as the Council of the
Federation stated, "an adequate level of federal funding through the Canada
Social Transfer (CST)."

    Copyright - Protection for the education community

    During the meeting, ministers of the CMEC Copyright Consortium discussed
their support for the inclusion of an education amendment in the federal
copyright legislation (Bill C-61), introduced in Parliament before the
election was called. This provision would have allowed teachers, students, and
schools to use Internet material that is publicly available for people to use
without being concerned that they are breaking the law. Ministers believe that
all federal parties must make a commitment that this essential amendment for
students and educators will be part of any new copyright bill that will be
introduced in the next federal Parliament. The CMEC Copyright Consortium is
composed of all provinces and territories with the exception of Quebec.

    Official Languages in Education - A continued commitment

    On negotiations for a new Protocol for Official Languages in Education
(OLEP) with the federal government, ministers restated their concerns that the
monies announced as part of the federal roadmap for linguistic duality in
Canada do not account for increasing service costs and the need to enhance
supports for minority and second language education.

    CMEC priorities and federal engagement

    Ministers expressed the hope that the federal government would enhance
its support for a number of their specific priorities where federal and
provincial interests converge. Meetings will continue with federal
counterparts to discuss CMEC priorities in the context of Learn Canada 2020.
    Ministers will hold their next meeting in Saskatoon in winter 2009.

    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,
Cell: (416) 300-2380, E-mail:, Web site:

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Council of Ministers of Education, Canada

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