Canada continues to slip further down the learning curve and is falling behind the international competition in many stages of education and learning, says a new report released by the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL). The report, titled What is the Future of Learning in Canada? (PDF), outlines positive developments in each area as well as troublesome trends and makes recommendations for improvement.
“While Canada does possess strengths in education, we are not setting the conditions for future success,” says Dr. Paul Cappon, President and CEO of CCL. “The principal cause of this unacceptable and deeply troubling state of affairs is that our governments have failed to work together to develop policies to improve the learning futures of Canadians of all ages.”
To address this issue, CCL recommends the creation of a Council of Ministers on Learning—a federal/provincial/territorial body responsible for coordinating lifelong learning across the country. The report also recommends establishing clear and measurable national goals for each stage of learning as well as independent monitoring to assess Canada’s progress on meeting these goals.
In what is its final report, CCL describes Canada’s performance in each stage of learning—from early childhood through to the senior years. Some key findings from the report include:
- Early childhood education and learning (ECEL) affects a child’s health, well-being and skills development, yet research indicates that 25% of Canadian children entering school lack the foundation needed for successful acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills.
- Canadian high-school students had an early advantage over other countries and consistently performed above the OECD average in standardized international testing, but we are now losing the lead and falling behind other countries.
- Despite having excellent post-secondary institutions, Canada has no national system for post-secondary education (PSE) and is losing ground in the areas of research, innovation and productivity.
- Canada is making no progress in adult and workplace learning and as a result our productivity remains low, our adult-literacy levels poor, and lifelong-learning opportunities limited.
Over the next few months, Cappon will meet with groups across the country to share and discuss the report’s findings and recommendations. In the spring of 2012, CCL will close its doors permanently.
“Through our final report and meetings with groups across Canada, CCL seeks to inform Canadians about the mechanisms we believe need to be put in place to improve the learning futures of Canadians of all ages,” says Cappon.
“Since its founding in 2004, CCL has acted as a significant force for the improvement of learning conditions across the life cycle and in all parts of the country,” says Robert Giroux, Chair of CCL’s Board of Directors. “However, with all federal funding completely withdrawn on March 31, 2010, CCL will cease activities in the spring of 2012.”