The Rural Student Success Program will improve the viability of rural high schools, increase graduation rates and encourage more rural students to pursue postsecondary education, Education Minister Gerard Kennedy announced today at Lord Dorchester Secondary School,
outside of London.
“We’re putting rural high schools on an equal footing with their urban counterparts to ensure greater success for Ontario’s 75,000 rural high school students,” said Kennedy.
“Our plan for rural Ontario recognizes that when young people have access to good education in local schools, our communities can grow stronger,” said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Leona Dombrowsky.
Kennedy, joined by Dombrowsky, Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP and Minister of Labour Steve Peters and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Maria Van Bommel, announced the new Rural Student Success Program, including a $10-million lighthouse program, a new ‘rural experience’ emphasis in the curriculum and $3.5 million for new e-learning pilot projects.
The lighthouse program will provide 25-50 rural high schools with $100,000 to $200,000 of additional annual funding for a two-year period. It is 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.
The Rural Student Success program will also adapt the high school curriculum to provide more options to rural students, including:
– A new farming and rural ‘major’ as part of the recently announced
Specialist High Skills major in the Ontario Secondary School Diploma
ruins the movie
(OSSD). Students will have the option to bundle 6-12 farming and
related courses to receive the specialist designation on their diploma
– New rural- and agricultural-related co-operative courses
– Allowing ministry-recognized external programs to be eligible to count
for credit, such as the 4H program.
An extensive $3.5 million e-learning pilot project will increase the diversity of courses available at rural schools by providing a provincial platform to enable students to take the same course from a variety of locations.
“It is important that people who choose to live in rural Ontario can access a high quality education,” said Peters. “The new funding will help to ensure the viability of rural schools and strengthen the economic development potential of rural Ontario.”
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 last week, 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.