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.
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 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.
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.
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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