Ministers of education celebrated the 40 th anniversary of their intergovernmental organization this week at their semi-annual meeting, in Victoria, British Columbia. To mark this important milestone, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), the national voice for education in Canada, today announced an innovative forum on literacy to be held in spring 2008.
This unique event will be designed to increase awareness among Canadians of the importance of literacy as a lifelong issue, and to encourage collaboration and sharing of information on literacy across Canada, develop education tools that support professional development, and frame discussions on literacy. It will bring together learners, parents, educators, business and labour leaders, policy makers, community partners, and others to lay the foundation for a continuing dialogue through the CMEC literacy networks.
“Ministers recognize the fundamental importance of literacy for individual and social development and success, ” said British Columbia’s education minister, Shirley Bond, who chaired the Victoria meeting. “We are committed, each in our own jurisdictions, and collectively through CMEC, to ensuring that Canada leads the world in literacy and learning.”
The forum will be hosted simultaneously in a number of locations across the country and will take advantage of technology to create a virtual meeting space, where all participants will be able to listen to and interact with keynote speakers in real time. A first for Canada and for education ministers, the forum’s unique structure and format will ensure that literacy becomes a national conversation.
The initiative is just one component of CMEC’s new Literacy Action Plan. Ministers will also be working together to create literacy networks to share the best of literacy practices from all provinces and territories. As well, they will be working through their assessment and research programs to provide useful data on literacy rates among Canadians.
“ Canada’s education systems are the envy of the world, and CMEC has been a key contributor to our success,” said Kelly Lamrock, Minister of Education for New Brunswick and newly elected Chair of CMEC. “Today’s ministers of education continue to build on the achievements of their predecessors by providing strong leadership in education through CMEC.”
Ministers will continue work on their priority action plans on Aboriginal education and postsecondary capacity. CMEC ministers contributed to and have endorsed “Competing for Tomorrow,” a strategy for postsecondary education and skills training in Canada released by premiers in 2006 and discussed today how to pursue major priorities outlined in the paper.
Ministers emphasized federal responsibility for increasing funding for postsecondary education. They also encouraged the federal government to restore stable literacy funding.
The Chair and Vice-Chair of CMEC will seek a meeting with their federal counterparts to discuss these issues as well as how to work more effectively together on such issues as literacy, Aboriginal education, and skills training to the benefit of all Canadians.
At their next meeting in February 2008, ministers will be exploring new ways of better informing Canadians about the status of education and the strategies required for ongoing improvement.
CMEC is an intergovernmental body composed of the ministers responsible for elementary-secondary and advanced education from the provinces and territories.