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Abbott: 'Transform education in this province'

B.C. Education Minister George Abbott today announced a "plan to move education forward, hand-in-hand with teachers, parents, students, and all those who share an interest in ensuring our province's bright future."

Under Abbott's byline, "B.C.'s plan for education transformation" was issued as an "opinion-editorial."

After expressing his hope that contract talks with teachers would soon be resolved, Abbott went on to say:

The reality is that our world has changed, and continues to change. An education system designed in the very different circumstances of an earlier century can't possibly meet the challenges students face - both now and in the future. Education, to be truly meaningful for students, must reflect the times in which we live and recognize the promise of every child.

That's why B.C.'s new education plan is based on a simple principle: every learner will realize their full potential and contribute to the well-being of our province. The plan has five key elements:

• Personalized learning for every student.

• Quality teaching and learning.

• More flexibility and choice.

• High standards.

• Learning empowered by technology.

As we transform education in this province, we will see some key changes. These include maintaining basic core skills for students, but at the same time redesigning curriculum to include key competencies like critical thinking, insight and teamwork - the kinds of skills and knowledge that students will need to succeed in the 21st century.

We will also support families by creating better opportunities for parents to engage in their child's learning with more flexibility and choice with respect to what, how, when and where their child learns.

We will expand our current learning credential program to better recognize learning that takes place outside of the classroom - like arts, sports, science and leadership programs - so that students are fairly recognized for the passion and commitment they bring to this work.

Abbott also predicted changes in the role of teachers, presumably through a transformation of the College of Teachers:

New legislation will create a teacher regulation system that puts the public interest first. The goal is to increase public confidence in the profession's disciplinary processes and to raise the stature of the teaching profession.

Abbott's full statement, "B.C.'s plan for education transformation," is available on the Ministry of Education website.

As of Thursday evening, the B.C. Teachers' Federation had not yet posted a response on its own website.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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