Education Ministers Celebrate International Adult Learners' Week


Toronto, September 8, 2003 -- Ministers responsible for education are celebrating International Adult Learners' Week (IALW), which is being held September 7–13, 2003, in conjunction with International Literacy Day (September 8) and the United Nations Literacy Decade. The worldwide event is organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“According to the latest statistics, too many adults in Canada do not see the need to continue learning, while others do not have the necessary literacy skills to function as workers, citizens, and family members in a modern economy.  International Adult Learners' Week aims to change this situation by highlighting the joy of learning in adulthood, regardless of the form this takes,” said the Honourable Pierre Reid, Quebec's Minister of Education and Vice-Chair of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC).  “We need to raise public awareness of this key issue and draw attention to the importance of literacy and adult learning.”

This is the second year provinces and territories have participated in the preparations and celebrations for this week. In addition to promoting adult literacy in their own jurisdictions, the members of CMEC have been supportive of international efforts to recognize and improve lifelong learning in general, and adult education in particular.  In 1997, Canada played an active role in the UNESCO International Conference on Adult Education, which adopted a Declaration and an Agenda for the Future with respect to adult education.  This week CMEC will participate in a UNESCO international meeting that will review countries' progress since the 1997 conference. This review has entailed the preparation of country reports; Canada's report will be posted on CMEC's Web site.

CMEC has also participated in an international study of adult learning through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is now following up on that review.

“The members of CMEC join me in congratulating UNESCO and, in particular, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, for their work in this area,” said Minister Reid.  “We are pleased to mark this special week dedicated to recognizing the efforts and successes of adults who resume their training.”

CMEC is an intergovernmental body made up of the ministers responsible for elementary-secondary and advanced education from the provinces and territories. Through CMEC, ministers share information and undertake projects in areas of mutual interest and concern.

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