Charlottetown, July 20, 2017 – Provincial and territorial ministers of education were in Charlottetown this week for the 106th meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC).
50th anniversary of CMEC
This year marks the 50th anniversary of CMEC. Since 1967, CMEC has been an integral part of the education landscape in Canada. It brings together ministers of education from all provinces and territories and plays a vital role in the country’s education systems.
“Our council makes an important contribution to provincial and territorial education systems. It’s our meeting place for strategic discussions, our international ambassador, and our workshop for pan-Canadian action,” said the Honourable Doug Currie, current Chair of CMEC and Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture for Prince Edward Island. “Our partnership in CMEC enables us to move our education systems forward through leadership and collaboration.”
While in Charlottetown, ministers reviewed a new multi-year strategic plan for CMEC and agreed to its launch in fall 2017. The plan will ensure that CMEC continues to focus on priority areas identified by ministers in which dialogue and collective action will bring the greatest benefit to provincial and territorial education systems.
A student’s ability to move successfully from secondary school to postsecondary education and into the labour force is an important measure of how well our education systems are meeting the needs of learners.
To complement the work being done on transitions in each province and territory, ministers released the CMEC Reference Framework for Successful Student Transitions. The framework, which includes shared perspectives on transitions, a benchmarking tool, and an action-plan template, is intended to provide guidance based on good practices identified through pan-Canadian and international scans.
Each province and territory will be able to use the elements of the framework that best suit its specific objectives and context.
“Prince Edward Island and other provinces and territories have long championed the importance of effective transition mechanisms,” said Minister Currie. “Our new framework will be a useful tool for ensuring that a student’s journey through school, and from school to work, is a successful one.”
Ministers discussed the CMEC Indigenous Education Plan (IEP) for 2016–19 and shared information about initiatives being undertaken in their respective jurisdictions to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 63 and to respond to the objectives and principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Ministers received an update on the implementation of the IEP and reviewed possible themes for one of its key events—a symposium on the indigenization of teacher-education programs, to be held in 2018.
Technology in elementary-secondary education
Ensuring that students are equipped for the digital world means more than access to the latest high-tech devices. Increasingly, school systems are being called upon to find ways to integrate technology more effectively to support 21st-century pedagogies and help students develop the skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world.
In this first pan-Canadian ministerial discussion of technology and innovation in our education systems, ministers looked at the current state of digital skills among students, drawing from pan-Canadian and international data.
They also engaged with a stakeholder panel led by the C21 CEO Academy, a pan-Canadian network of school-system superintendents, and considered next steps in CMEC’s work on technology in education.
It was agreed that a CMEC working group would be established to consider learning opportunities needed to ensure Canadian students are able to fully participate in social and economic life as global citizens.
Math skills and strategies in elementary-secondary education
In keeping with their commitment to strong foundational skills for all students, ministers held a round-table discussion on student performance in mathematics and discussed measures that have been taken in their respective jurisdictions to foster improved math performance.
Their discussion was framed by a presentation on math and numeracy performance in Canada that drew on results from both pan-Canadian and international student assessments.
CMEC’s six global competencies—critical thinking and problem solving; innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship; learning to learn/self-awareness and self-direction; collaboration; communication; and global citizenship and sustainability—were first presented in July 2016 and are part of a pan-Canadian effort to prepare students for the rapidly changing social, economic, and technological landscapes of the 21st century.
At their Charlottetown meeting, ministers of education shared information about progress and initiatives on these global competencies in their respective jurisdictions.
They also agreed to begin work on the development of a pan-Canadian strategy for assessing global competencies. This strategy will complement assessments in literacy, numeracy, reading, and related subjects that are already coordinated in Canada by CMEC.
Postsecondary education sustainability
The sustainability of education systems is a preoccupation of all provinces and territories as they weigh important public priorities and plan for a future in which education and training are more important than ever to achieve prosperity. Postsecondary education has become a requirement for many of today’s jobs and will be a requirement for many more in the future. The sector faces many challenges, including changing demographics and enrolment trends, which influence its sustainability.
CMEC 106 provided ministers with the opportunity to continue their discussion of how best to ensure the long-term health of provincial and territorial postsecondary education systems. They shared information on their respective approaches to postsecondary sustainability and on how to work effectively with colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions. The challenges of faculty renewal were also discussed.
It was agreed that on-going discussion and sharing of best practices are essential as every jurisdiction considers solutions to sustainability challenges.
Universities as economic drivers
In addition to their long-standing role in knowledge creation and human-capital development, universities are increasingly being asked to contribute more directly to innovation and economic growth.
Ministers responsible for postsecondary education are addressing this challenge in a variety of ways within their respective jurisdictions. They used their meeting in Charlottetown to engage with a panel of experts who occupy different positions in the university-economy “ecosystem.”
“We want to empower our universities and colleges to serve as incubators of new ideas, initiatives, and best practices,” said the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development and Deputy Premier of Ontario. “We have a changing expectation of what postsecondary institutions can achieve; we recognize the important role they play in economic development as both employers and developers of the workforce.”
Student well-being at school and on campus has been a growing area of interest among education policy-makers in Canada and abroad over the last decade, in part to determine how well education systems promote students’ overall development, sense of self, and quality of life.
Ministers discussed initiatives, programs, and approaches related to student well-being in their respective jurisdictions. They paid particular attention to the different facets of student well‑being, such as mental health; safe, accepting, and healthy learning environments; and equitable and inclusive education.
Canadian education on the world stage
While in Charlottetown, ministers reviewed the proposed program and discussed possible topics for the Fourth High-Level Consultation on Education Collaboration between the Provinces and Territories of Canada and the People’s Republic of China (4HLC), which will take place from October 18 to 21, 2017, in Beijing.
Ministers also reviewed the proposed program for a delegation to Vietnam, which is scheduled for October 14–16, 2017. Ministers hope to engage and build a strong relationship with Vietnam and encourage education collaboration.
Ministers were also pleased to welcome Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills for OECD, to their 106th meeting. Mr. Schleicher presented an overview of OECD education activities and reviewed trends in education in Canada and around the world. Provinces and territories are top performers in many OECD education-related studies and combine excellence in results with high equity among students.
Founded in 1967, CMEC is a collective voice for Canada’s ministers of education and postsecondary 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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