TORONTO, April 10, 2002 -- The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) announced today that it will mark International Adult Learners Week in Canada from September 8 to 14. The announcement was made at the close of the 81st CMEC meeting held in Toronto, April 9-10.
The week is a world-wide event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), based in Paris. CMEC will work with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and nongovernmental organizations to develop plans for activities to take place during the week.
"Adult learning has taken on extra importance in recent years, now that we as a society have accepted the idea of lifelong learning," said the Honourable Dianne Cunningham, Ontario's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and Chair of CMEC. "The ministers have agreed to make adult learning a major topic of discussion at our next meeting, which will take place in October."
Ministers met informally with the Honourable Jane Stewart, Minister of Human Resources Development Canada. Minister Stewart presented the federal government's skills paper, Knowledge Matters.
When CMEC reconvened, provincial and territorial ministers reiterated existing CMEC priorities in the area of innovation and agreed to explore possible other priorities to which the federal government could contribute in areas of federal responsibility. Ministers plan to submit their priorities to Premiers at their Annual Conference in August in Halifax.
Ministers also discussed a proposed amendment to the federal Copyright Act. The CMEC Copyright Consortium, led by New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, which includes all provinces and territories except Quebec, called upon the federal government to recognize the rights of students and educators to have reasonable and equitable access to materials on the Internet. The ministers noted that, currently, students and teachers risk infringing copyright through the routine use of the Internet.
Discussions at the CMEC meeting also included the possible consequences for education of the General Agreement on Trades in Services (GATS). Ministers instructed their working group on GATS, led by Ontario and Quebec, to follow this issue closely from the education sector perspective. CMEC will receive an update from the group when it next meets in October.
At their two-day meeting, ministers also discussed on-line learning. Their talks focused on content and professional development, research, and connectivity. They agreed to continue to share information on best practices in this area. As well, they approved in principle the development of a CMEC Internet portal to link provincial and territorial on-line portals and content repositories. This initiative will continue to be led by Alberta.
Ministers received a report from a federal-provincial/territorial working group on financial assistance to students, co-chaired by Alberta and Human Resources Development Canada, on which Quebec participates as an observer. Short-term recommendations to address gaps in the system and further research for long-term reform were discussed. Ministers will review the recommendations in the coming months with a view to implementing new policy initiatives.
CMEC members reviewed the current state of credit transfer at the postsecondary level in Canada and considered a number of options aimed at enhancing credit recognition. They decided to work together through CMEC to undertake further research and needs assessment and to develop further options of credit transfer.
CMEC is an intergovernmental body made up 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.
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