Calgary, September 3, 2009 – The 96th meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, concluded today in Calgary. Ministers discussed progress on a number of their priorities including, improving student success, Aboriginal education, literacy, postsecondary education, and education data and research, all of which are key components of ministers’ April 2008 joint declaration, Learn Canada 2020. While in Calgary, ministers also took part in events and activities at WorldSkills Calgary 2009, an international skills and trades competition.
The ministers’ Summit on Aboriginal Education, held last February in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, served as a catalyst for a national dialogue on Learn Canada 2020’s goal of eliminating the achievement gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners.
"We are encouraged by the success of the Summit on Aboriginal Education and see it as an important opportunity,” said Saskatchewan Deputy Premier and Minister of Education Ken Krawetz. “It provided a forum to focus on the common goals that unite us, such as strengthening student achievement, improving graduation rates, and ensuring smooth career transitions. We are committed to moving the Aboriginal education agenda forward by continuing to strengthen national and regional partnerships.”
Ministers agreed to build on their partnerships with Aboriginal leaders and develop a detailed action plan for provincial and territorial follow-up. They urged the federal government to be more engaged with the Learn Canada 2020 goal of eliminating the achievement gap. Ministers further supported the call heard at the summit for the federal government to increase support for Aboriginal learners in Canada.
Ministers discussed their continued commitment to the Learn Canada 2020 goal of raising literacy levels in Canada and the progress on CMEC ’s Literacy Action Plan. The action plan raises awareness and engages partners and stakeholders in all jurisdictions through the sharing of best practices, the latest research, and new policy initiatives.
“Recognizing the importance of literacy as essential to skills development, my colleagues and I are working together and with partners from all sectors to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to gain the range of skills and expertise, such as those showcased here at WorldSkills,” said the Honourable Diane McGifford, Minister of Advanced Education and Literacy for Manitoba.
Postsecondary education capacity
Canada has one of the best systems of postsecondary education in the world. Maintaining that world-class standard is the key to a strong economy and strong communities, and to ensuring the well-being of all Canadians. Ministers agreed that to maintain this world-class standard will mean recruiting top faculty, building high-quality infrastructure, developing a national strategy for research and development, and ensuring postsecondary education is affordable to all Canadians.
Ministers affirmed that meeting these goals will require substantial, predictable, stable, and ongoing federal support of Canada’s postsecondary education. Ministers will work with premiers to fulfill this vision of a world‑class postsecondary system.
Education data and research
Ministers of education emphasized the importance of high-quality, timely, and comparable information about education systems, to report to Canadians and to make sound decisions about education. Ministers recognized the need for robust learning data and research strategies to keep pace with the diversity of education systems in Canada.
Ministers committed to a dialogue with the federal government to address key issues, in particular, the need for stable and sustainable funding for data and research that meets the needs of provinces and territories that are responsible for the delivery of education.
Meeting with OECD
As part of CMEC’s leadership role in education on the international stage, ministers were pleased to welcome Mr. Aart de Geus and Mr. Andreas Schleicher from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Discussion focused on skills for the 21st century and the importance of evidence and research-based decision-making.
CMEC ministers have been working with their health counterparts to ensure the safety of students, teachers, and staff in education institutions across the country. “The health of our students is a top priority,” said Minister Diane McGifford, “Our education communities are taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of H1N1.”
Ministers discussed strategies to protect institutions and committed to keep each other informed through ongoing dialogue as plans evolve.
New Chair of CMEC
Ministers of education also announced the nomination of Diane McGifford as the new Chair of CMEC. In keeping with CMEC practice, Manitoba will be the Chair for a period of two years.
“My colleagues and I are working together on an impressive range of pan-Canadian activities, and I look forward to playing an active role in continuing to put education at the top of the national agenda,” said Minister McGifford.
Ministers also acknowledged the important contribution of the Honourable Kelly Lamrock during the past two years as Chair of CMEC.
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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