Fredericton, September 23, 2008 – 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 Saskatchewan.
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 Brunswick.
Postsecondary education funding – 21st century funding for 21st century needs
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.
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