First-Ever Pan-Canadian Forum tackling Literacy and Numeracy Challenges

For the first time, literacy and numeracy educators from across the country have come together in shared determination to find the best approaches to give every student the opportunity to reach his or her full potential, Ontario Education Minister Gerard Kennedy said today.
“Ensuring that every child has strong foundational literacy and numeracy skills is one of the most serious and underestimated challenges we face in education across Canada,” said Kennedy. “Succeeding at this challenge will be both an investment in children today and in our country’s future prosperity.”
The two-day forum, called Unlocking Our Children’s Potential: Literacy and Numeracy as a Foundation, was presented by The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) and hosted by the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat.
Over 400 educators, policy-makers, strategists and researchers participated in the forum from across Canada including the Honourable Shirley Bond, Education Minister, British Columbia, Honourable Mildred Dover, Education Minister, Prince Edward Island and Honourable Jamie Muir, Education Minister, Nova Scotia.
“In the fall of 2004, education ministers identified literacy as a priority in recognition of the key role it plays in the well being of Canadians,” said Shirley Bond, Education Minister for British Columbia. “This forum is the first of two that will bring together literacy experts and
education partners to discuss and share best practices and the latest research on literacy.”
The forum included 10 showcase displays from Ontario school boards and 60 workshops from experts across the country – each illustrating and sharing promising practices on improving student achievement in literacy and numeracy.
Among them:

– Targeted strategies for selected student populations including boys,
Aboriginal students, students with special needs and francophone
students
– Workshops on capacity building, shared leadership, board improvement
planning and creating centers of excellence in student achievement
– Latest trends, innovations, research and cross-jurisdictional
challenges related to improving the literacy and numeracy skills of
children

“Although I was not able to attend the forum I understand it provided an excellent opportunity for participants to focus on research, successful practices, and initiatives in literacy and numeracy in the early years of school,” said the Honourable Joan Burke, Chair of CMEC and Minister of Education for Newfoundland and Labrador. “Our overall objective is to improve
student achievement, and literacy and numeracy really are the foundations for that.”
Forum keynotes were delivered by renowned international education experts, Dr. Michael Fullan, Special Advisor to the Premier and Minister of Education, Ontario; Sir Michael Barber, Former Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister Tony Blair, United Kingdom and Carmel Crévola, International Literacy Consultant on topics such as achieving large scale reform and developing
successful classroom literacy programs.
“This was an extraordinary opportunity for stakeholders from across Canada to meet and share ideas on how to foster the highest level of literacy and numeracy among all Canadian children,” said Education Minister Mildred Dover of Prince Edward Island.
Education Minister Jamie Muir of Nova Scotia agreed, adding, “It is only through continuing collaboration among educators, policy makers, and researchers that Canada will maintain and enhance its position as one of the most literate countries in the world.”
Jean-Marc Fournier, Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports stated, “Language is the most important of all the things we learn in school. It serves as the very basis of thought and, as such, constitutes the foundation of all learning. Likewise, knowledge of mathematics assumes an essential character in our children’s education.
“Québec is making major efforts to improve its ways of doing things in order to help young people succeed. For example, it is attributing more importance to core subjects and promoting reading among students, and has reduced the number of children in each classroom. This forum, which has given us an opportunity to discuss best practices, will have a beneficial impact on
the education systems of all the provinces and territories.”

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