Message from the Minister and
Over the last four years, our Government has worked with educators, students and parents to improve student achievement and make British Columbia a world leader in education. We have put in place a strong foundation and enjoyed remarkable success, and the Ministry of Education’s 2006/07–2008/09 Service Plan will continue to build on that foundation.
The 2006/07–2008/09 Service Plan lays out our goals for the next three years. We have set ambitious targets that will help Government achieve its Five Great Goals for a golden decade. Our key priorities are literacy, student health and physical activity, and improving Aboriginal student performance.
The Ministry of Education oversees the Kindergarten to Grade 12 education system and, following the May 2005 election, was given responsibility for early learning, literacy and libraries. This broader mandate integrates a range of family education services that enables the Ministry to improve coordination of learning and better serve the public.
The Ministry of Education plays a key role in achieving Government’s first great goal, which is to make B.C. the best-educated, most literate jurisdiction on the continent. Since 2001, the Province has invested $50 million in programs and resources to improve literacy rates, including funding to support innovative teaching practices, libraries, adult literacy, textbooks and a program for preschoolers.
Now that the Ministry of Education is responsible for all literacy services, the Ministry will ensure that Government addresses the needs of the whole family — from preschoolers to grandparents. Over the next three years, we will continue to work with other ministries and community and educational literacy partners to help British Columbians acquire the gift of reading and writing.
We will track our progress using a number of key performance indicators, including the annual Foundation Skills Assessment, school completion rate, the Programme for International Student Assessment and the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey.
The Ministry of Education is also instrumental in helping the Province reach its second great goal: to improve public health care and lead the way in North America in healthy living and physical fitness. In November 2005, the Ministry introduced guidelines for food and beverage sales in B.C. schools. These new provincial guidelines will help schools decide what products should be sold in their stores, cafeterias and vending machines and provide students with healthier options. The Ministry will work with school boards, health professionals and vending machine companies to eliminate unhealthy food choices in our schools.
This year, the Ministry will introduce a healthy schools plan to help our students be healthier and more physically active. Working together with the ActNow BC initiative and Action Schools! BC, the Ministry will continue to encourage increased physical activity in schools.
The Ministry will work with other ministries, community partners, parents, addictions experts and school boards to develop a school-based crystal meth awareness campaign. The campaign is part of Government’s $7 million comprehensive initiative to fight crystal meth.
Our Government has set a goal for itself to build the best system of support in Canada for persons with disabilities, special needs, children at risk, and seniors. In order to meet this third goal, the Ministry is tracking performance results for special needs students. This will help the Province, school planning councils and school boards make plans for improving achievement for special needs students. This year, we have provided an additional $37 million in funding for students with special needs to help build a stronger system of support for these students.
The Ministry of Education is working to close the achievement gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. While the school completion rate for Aboriginal students has increased by six per cent over the last five years, it still trails the non-Aboriginal rate. This Government has made it a priority to forge a new relationship with Aboriginal people, based on recognition, respect and reconciliation, to mend the social and economic disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. The Ministry of Education will play an important role in this new relationship by working with school boards and Aboriginal communities to reach the goal of having Aboriginal Enhancement Agreements signed in all school districts (two school districts have alternative arrangements in place — Nisga’a and West Vancouver). To date, 22 agreements have been signed, 12 are in draft and the remainder are in the planning stage. These agreements are establishing harmonious partnerships that involve shared decision-making and goal-setting.
The Ministry is also building stronger lines of communication with education partners through the establishment of the new Learning Roundtable. The roundtable is a forum where education partner groups are discussing class size, class composition and other issues related to learning conditions in the public school system. We recognize that the hard work, dedication and expertise we gain from teachers are vital to help us reach all of our goals. That’s why Government will also be hosting an Annual Teachers’ Congress that will give the Premier and Ministers a chance to speak directly with teachers from across the province and listen to their ideas for providing a high-quality, performance-oriented education system for British Columbia.
Our education system is already one of the best in the world. To continue to meet the needs of today’s learners, we must always strive to improve. This Service Plan sets out our goals and performance measures for our education system as we bring hope, prosperity and opportunity for all British Columbians.
The Ministry of Education’s 2006/07–2008/09 Service Plan was prepared under my direction, in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act. I am accountable for the basis on which the plan has been prepared. All material fiscal assumptions and policy decisions as of February 15, 2006 have been considered in preparing the plan and I am accountable for achieving the specific objectives in the plan.
Honourable Shirley Bond
Minister of Education and Minister Responsible
for Early Learning and Literacy
February 15, 2006