CMEC Moves Forward On Pan Canadian Education Initiatives

Toronto, July 8, 2016 – Provincial and territorial ministers of education and postsecondary education came together this week in Toronto for the annual meeting of their intergovernmental body, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC).


Indigenous Education


Indigenous Education continues to be a high priority for CMEC. Ministers underscored once more the importance of making the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools better known, as indicated in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC), and building a brighter education future for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.


At their 105th meeting, ministers reviewed an inventory of actions in Indigenous Education that have been implemented in each province and territory, and discussed the lessons that could be drawn from them.


“Indigenous Education must be responsive to local needs and realities, but that doesn't mean we can't learn from each other" noted the Honourable Doug Currie, Chair of CMEC and Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture for Prince Edward Island. “Dialogue and exchange at the pan‑Canadian level contribute positively to the work that each province and territory is doing in cooperation with local and regional Indigenous organizations and with Indigenous learners themselves.”


Ministers agreed to make public the report of the CMEC Aboriginal Educators' Symposium, an unprecedented event held in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in 2015. At the symposium, Indigenous educators and elders from across Canada came together to discuss how best to encourage more First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples to pursue a teaching career and to ensure that Indigenous educators remain active and flourish in the profession.


Ministers were pleased to note that the 2017 World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE) would be held in Toronto. WIPCE is the most important event in the international Indigenous education movement, attracting Indigenous representatives from around the globe to share successes and strategies for culturally grounded Indigenous education. It was agreed that provinces and territories would work with WIPCE organizers to discuss the role that CMEC could play in this landmark event.


Ministers encouraged their counterparts in the federal government to pursue their own work with Indigenous communities and organizations intended to resolve the financial and governance issues which schools on reserves face and for which the federal government has a fiduciary responsibility.


Global competencies


Ministers continued their conversation concerning the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that students of all ages need in order to succeed in an economy that is marked by ever-more rapid change, both structural and technological. These “global competencies” build on solid foundations in literacy and numeracy.


Discussion in Toronto revolved around six global competencies, their definitions, and their potential real-world application in the classroom: critical thinking and problem solving; innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship; learning to learn/self-awareness and self-direction; collaboration; communication; and global citizenship and sustainability.


Ministers agreed to address the issue of the assessment of global competencies and noted that CMEC would benefit from continued dialogue with other organizations, such as OECD and UNESCO, in order to arrive at a common understanding of global competencies and to determine how best to assess their acquisition.


In the course of the meeting, several ministers also gave examples of approaches or initiatives they have implemented that address one or more of the six global competencies. It was also noted that CMEC will be participating in OECD's 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which will introduce a global competencies component.


Postsecondary education


The sustainability of education systems is a concern of all provinces and territories as they plan for a future in which education will be more important than ever in ensuring the social and economic development of Canadians.


Ministers had the opportunity to discuss a number of key issues in provincial and territorial postsecondary systems, including:


  • addressing current sustainability challenges;
  • envisioning sustainable PSE systems;
  • keeping PSE relevant to students, employers, and the public;
  • fostering innovative systems that adjust to changes around them; and
  • examining compensation with PSE systems.


It was agreed that CMEC postsecondary education officials would continue pan‑Canadian discussion and research on strategies for maintaining and enhancing provinces' and territories' robust postsecondary systems.


Student Transitions


Learning is a process involving several transitions. It begins within the family, and continues through early childhood education, elementary and secondary school, postsecondary education, and adult learning.


For their 105th meeting, ministers emphasized the transition of students from secondary school to postsecondary education and into the workforce. A number of ministers felt that a student's ability to transition from secondary school to postsecondary education and into the world of work should be seen as a key measure of success of provincial and territorial education systems, including for students from underrepresented groups and those with complex needs. Ministers also discussed the importance of the transition of students between elementary and secondary schools.


Ministers discussed the development of a pan-Canadian student transitions reference framework which would take into account the approaches adopted by the provinces and territories, and tasked their officials with providing a draft document by July 2017.


Canadian education on the world stage


International relations have always been an important part of the mandate of CMEC, reflecting the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories in education. CMEC can play a role as a collective voice in educational matters on the world stage.


Ministers reviewed a variety of issues related to education at the international level, including CMEC's representation at international education-related fora and collective targeting of priority markets for the recruitment of international students.


About CMEC

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

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Colin Bailey
Director, Communications
Cell: 416-777-4879
Tel.: 416-962-8100, ext. 259
Twitter: @CCMEC