August 25, 2010—Canada continues to fall behind in key areas of learning, according to a report released today by the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL).
The report, Taking Stock of Lifelong Learning in Canada (2005-2010): Progress or Complacency? provides an overview of the current state of learning across Canada in all phases of life—from early childhood, K-12 and post-secondary education to adult literacy and learning, workplace training as well as Aboriginal learning.
“In 2006, when the Government of Canada declared an ambition for the country to build the “Knowledge Advantage” necessary for success in the global economy, CCL commended it as an important step,” says Dr. Paul Cappon, President and CEO of CCL. “However, as our report shows, by continuing to fall behind in some key areas of learning, Canada may be creating a national knowledge disadvantage. Unlike Canada, competitor countries have developed, or are in the process of developing, coordinated approaches to education and lifelong learning. ”
Learning in early childhood and in the school years
Quality early childhood education and learning has critical implications for an individual’s well-being and later success in school, at work, and in the community. Yet in Canada, investments in early childhood education are among the lowest among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Canada lacks national measures that would provide a greater understanding of the quality, access, financing and policy of early education and learning programs.
While Canadian secondary schools have shown consistently high results in international tests on reading, science and math, other countries are making rapid advances, which could eventually weaken our competitive edge.
Increasing numbers of young people are attending post-secondary institutions. Yet, Canada is unique in having no national system of post-secondary education. Canada is also at a disadvantage by having not a single measurable national goal, benchmark, or assessment of achievement for any phase of education.
Learning in the adult years
Although Canada has among the world’s most school-educated population, nearly half of adults in this country lack the prose-literacy skills needed to cope with the demands of a knowledge-based global economy.
In Canada, measurement approaches have historically been built upon only a partial understanding of Aboriginal learning, often choosing to focus on high-school graduation as the sole indicator of success. Such approaches are incomplete and overlook the many aspects of learning that are integral to an Aboriginal perspective and important to Aboriginal learners and the communities they live in.
To address this, CCL has worked in partnership with Aboriginal learning experts across Canada to develop a more comprehensive approach to measuring the learning success of First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The resulting framework is known as the Holistic Lifelong Learning Measurement Framework.
“This report is intended to provide more than a summation of CCL’s research and analysis over the past five years. It also offers an opportunity to translate the rhetoric of lifelong learning into action,” says Cappon. “There still remains time for Canada to establish the conditions required for success in the future. Will we seize that opportunity?”
In recognition of this landmark report, CCL has launched a free, online Data Warehouse that offers educators, researchers, policy-makers, and the general public access to much of CCL’s research data from the past five years.
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The Canadian Council on Learning is an independent, not-for-profit corporation. Its mandate is to provide evidence-based information to Canadians so they can make the best decisions about learning throughout all stages of life, from early childhood through to the senior years.
For more information, please contact:
Canadian Council on Learning
613.782.2959 ext: 6252