103rd Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC)


CHARLOTTETOWN, July 9,  2014 – Skills, Aboriginal  education, improved student performance, and partnership were the focus of the 103rd  meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), in Charlottetown,  Prince Edward Island.

“CMEC serves as the pan-Canadian forum where ministers responsible for  education come together to tackle the key education issues that underpin our  success as a society and economy,” said the Honourable Jeff Johnson, Chair of  CMEC and Minister of Education for Alberta.

Education and skills

At the top of the agenda of provincial and territorial ministers was the  role of education systems in providing Canadians with the skills they need now  and in the future.

At the request of the Council of the Federation (COF), CMEC and provincial  and territorial labour market ministers are co-hosting “Skills for the Future,”  a pan-Canadian symposium on skills that will take place right after the 103rd  CMEC meeting.

The symposium will give business and labour leaders, academia, student  organizations, and other stakeholders the opportunity to share innovative best  practices in skills training and consider ways to enhance the alignment between  education and skills training systems and provincial and territorial labour  markets.

Commenting on the event, Mr. David Birnbaum, Parliamentary Assistant to  Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, noted that “provinces and territories have  the jurisdiction, the knowledge, and the expertise to ensure that Canada’s  education and skills training systems are working in harmony with labour  markets to drive Canada’s economy forward.”

“Skills for the Future” kicks off this evening with a keynote address on  skills training in the Canadian context by Alex Usher, President of Higher  Education Strategy Associates. It continues on Thursday with a keynote address  by Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills and  Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General, OECD, on  education and skills from the international perspective.

The symposium is followed on Friday by a meeting of the Forum of Labour  Market Ministers (FLMM) during which provinces and territories and the federal  government will discuss a wide variety of labour-market issues.

Aboriginal education

Ministers were pleased to welcome the Truth and Reconciliation  Commission of Canada (TRCC) to their meeting to review progress on their July  2013 commitment to ensure that students in K-12 education systems all gain an  understanding, over the course of their studies, of how Indian residential  schools have affected Aboriginal peoples and Canada as a whole.

They also agreed to additional pan-Canadian work in  Aboriginal education to take place over the next two years, which will focus on  four key directional ideas: support for Aboriginal students interested in pursuing  teaching as a career; development of learning resources on Canadian history and  the legacy of Indian Residential Schools that could be used by teacher training  programs; sharing of promising practices in Aboriginal education; and ongoing  promotion of learning about Indian Residential Schools in K-12 education  systems.

Ministers agreed to host the next CMEC meeting in  Yellowknife in summer 2015. The meeting will include an Aboriginal educator  summit to support Aboriginal students interested in pursuing teaching as  career.

“Building teaching capacity among Aboriginal peoples is essential if we  are to move forward to close the achievement gap between Aboriginal and  non-Aboriginal students,” said the Honourable Jackson Lafferty, Minister of  Education, Culture and Employment for Northwest Territories and CMEC Lead  Minister on Aboriginal education. “CMEC can make an important contribution to  this work by facilitating dialogue and exchange at the pan-Canadian level among  a variety of stakeholders.”

International education

International education continues to be a high priority for ministers.  They reaffirmed the importance of Canada’s position as a preferred study destination  for international students and agreed that they would continue to work with the  federal government to strengthen Canada as   a brand, which is already being used by institutions across the country  as part of their international marketing strategies.

“In keeping with CMEC’s role as the pan-Canadian voice for education on  the world stage, we intend to collaborate with the federal government in the  further development of Canada’s international education brand to promote our  diverse and high quality education systems,” said the Honourable J. Alan  McIsaac, Vice-Chair of CMEC and Minister of Education and Early Childhood  Development for Prince Edward Island. Ministers noted that they look forward to  continuing their dialogue with the federal government in areas of common  concern and according to their respective jurisdictions.

Building on the success of education talks between provinces and  territories and the People’s Republic of China over the past few years,  ministers also agreed to undertake additional international activities focusing  on the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, CMEC will be partnering with the  Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada conference, “Canada’s Asia Challenge: Skills  and Knowledge for the Next Generation,” which will take place in Calgary on  October 15–17, 2014. The conference will focus on the knowledge and skills  Canadians need to engage effectively with the countries of Asia.

Working in partnership

Throughout their meeting, ministers emphasized that the transformation  of provincial and territorial education systems is best achieved by working in  collaboration with education partners and other stakeholders and by recognizing  the link between education and economic growth and innovation.

Student performance

Ministers also addressed Canada’s  performance in literacy and numeracy. They reviewed the results of recent  learning assessments and shared information on measures they are taking in  their respective jurisdictions to improve student achievement.

British Columbia’s Minister of  Education, the Honourable Peter Fassbender, remarked that, “while Canada has  one of the best-educated and most highly skilled populations in the world, the  need for innovation within our education systems has never been greater. At all  levels — from early childhood learning and development, to elementary-secondary  education, to postsecondary education, to skills training for adults —  provincial and territorial ministers are working collaboratively  to ensure that we continue on a path that  reinforces our global reputation for equity and excellence.”

Ministers recognize that teachers are at the heart of educational  transformation. That is why  CMEC will  play host to the 5th International Summit on the Teaching Profession  (ISTP 2015) in Banff, Alberta, March 29–30, 2015.

ISTP has emerged as one of the most important forums in the world for dialogue  on education reform. Dedicated to promoting excellence in teaching in order to support  education change and improve student outcomes, it draws on the expertise of  education ministers and the teaching profession to highlight best practices and  policies in the field of education.

“Canada is very proud to be hosting ISTP 2015,” said Minister Johnson. “By  joining together with the teaching profession and international experts, we can  enrich the discussion and identify innovative ideas on how to foster teacher  excellence across the education spectrum.”

ISTP 2015 will be co-hosted by CMEC and The Learning Partnership and in  collaboration with OECD and Education International.

About CMEC

Founded in 1967, CMEC is the collective voice  of Canada’s ministers of education. It provides leadership in education at the  pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the exercise of the  exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories over education. For more  information, visit us at www.cmec.ca.

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Colin Bailey
 Director, Communications
 Cell: 416-938-1911
 Tel.: 416-962-8100, ext. 259
 E-mail: c.bailey@cmec.ca

Twitter: @CCMEC