International relations have always been an important element of CMEC activities, reflecting its role as the collective voice of the provinces and territories in educational matters that involve international intergovernmental organizations. Jurisdiction remains an important issue, given the exclusive responsibility of the provinces and territories in education and of the federal government in the conduct of foreign affairs.
While all provinces and territories individually carry out education-related international activities, CMEC's mandate internationally is that of coordinating the collective responsibility of the provinces and territories for education where the activities concerned require experts, delegates, or reports that speak for the Canadian educational authorities as a whole.
The mandate involves two different roles:
- The primary role is coordinating and supporting collective provincial and territorial input into international discussion of educational policy issues.
- The second extends CMEC's role in providing national leadership and a strong voice for education in Canada into the international sphere.
CMEC's international activities continue to be focused on three major international organizations:
Partnerships and associations have also been formed with other intergovernmental organizations:
Priorities and Responsibilities
Three priorities guide CMEC's international involvement:
- issues of direct relevance to CMEC's national education agenda
- continued strong presence in the work of OECD and UNESCO
- emphasis given to the American, European, and Asia-Pacific regions
CMEC works with the jurisdictions to ensure that Canada is represented at the appropriate meetings and conferences of the international organizations. At many events, ministers of education lead the Canadian delegation, speaking to the issues at hand and presenting Canadian experience and suggestions for action. At other meetings, deputy ministers, senior governmental officials, and/or subject matter experts may play prominent roles.
Canada is also represented on a number of key education-related intergovernmental bodies, such as the OECD's Education Policy Committee, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation Governing Board, and the Indicators of Education Systems groups, UNESCO's Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, and the Inter-American Committee on Education.
Prior to meetings of these organizations and committees, CMEC prepares extensive briefing notes and/or reports on the activities of the jurisdictions related to the topics under discussion. CMEC also coordinates the follow-up to the meetings as necessary.
Federal-Provincial Consultative Committee on Education-Related International Activities
The Federal-Provincial Consultative Committee on Education-Related International Activities (FPCCERIA) was established in 1986 by CMEC and the Secretary of State for External Affairs as an advisory body that provides a forum for discussion of items of common concern to the federal and the provincial/territorial governments and refers to deputy ministers any items requiring decision. The federal departments most often involved have been the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Citizenship and Immigration, Canadian International Development Agency, and Industry Canada.
The topics most frequently addressed in FPCCERIA meetings have been:
- foreign students in Canada
- marketing of Canadian education abroad
- recruitment of foreign students to Canada
- international student visas
The recent focus of FPCCERIA has been on the creation of an education brand that can be used for all international marketing of education in Canada, whether by the provinces, territories, federal government, or educational bodies. The branding discussion has focused on brand ownership, management, usage, and content. Promotional materials, including a logo, brochure, maps, and usage guides have been developed.