Innovative Lighthouse Programs begin at 70 Schools Across Ontario

Rural students will now have access to new e-learning, agricultural and horticultural training, advanced technology and expanded co-op programs as part of the McGuinty government’s plan to enhance the viability of rural schools and help retain rural students, Education Minister Gerard Kennedy announced today.

“Ontario’s 75,000 rural high school students deserve the same chance for success as their urban counterparts,” said Kennedy. “We’re making it easier for rural students to try out their future career and pursue their post secondary destination of choice.”

“Our plan for rural Ontario recognizes that when young people have access to good education in local schools, our communities can and will grow stronger,” said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Leona Dombrowsky.

The lighthouse program is providing 70 rural high schools with up to $200,000 of additional
funding. The program’s intention is to use the research and experience to make similar projects widely available across the province.

Innovative lighthouse projects being launched across the province include an agricultural
academy, an aboriginal centre for student success for tutoring and exposure to the arts, a
virtual e-learning campus and an adventure–based learning program.
In total, $10 million is being invested in the program, the latest instalment in the McGuinty
government’s Rural Funding Formula, which includes $20 million provided earlier this year,

and now represents over $200 million in targeted rural schools funding since 2002-03. To
date, rural students are receiving fifty per cent more funding per pupil than they would
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have without the targeted investment.

The lighthouse program is part of the new Rural Student Success Program announced by
Education Minister Gerard Kennedy in December 2005. The program also includes a new
‘rural experience’ emphasis in the curriculum and $3.5 million for new e-learning pilot
projects.

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The Rural Student Success Program is part of the government’s broader high school
Student Success Strategy to ensure that all students receive a good outcome from their
high school education.

Announced by Premier Dalton McGuinty in December 2005, the strategy includes a new
government target to increase the graduation rate to 85 per cent by 2010 (up from 68 per
cent when the government took office in 2003 and 71 per cent in 2004).