Ontario’s Rural Education Strategy Discussed

Filed under: Headline,IN THE NEWS |

LouRinaldiMPPby Adam Gault

Representatives of Ontario’s Ministry of Education hosted a public forum at the Columbus Community Hall in Amherstburg to discuss the unique educational challenges rural communities face.

This event was one in a series of ten similar events being held in communities across Ontario. These events provide members of the public an open-forum opportunity to speak to those, with various positions within the Ministry of Education, who can provide feedback on what the province can do better to face some of today’s rural educational challenges.

Among the guests from the Ministry of Education, the event also featured Lou Rinaldi, the MPP representing Northumberland-Quinte West, as the keynote speaker.

“How can we do things better? That’s why we’re here,” Rinaldi said in his opening remarks. “We need to engage the community way, way more. The community involvement is crucial.”

Every member of the public who attended received a “Meeting Workbook” provided by the Ministry of Education. In these, people had the opportunity to provide written feedback and answer questions on rural school issues, such as the sustainable use of school space in rural communities, the decision-making process around school closures, and the quality of education in rural communities.

After the discussion period with the Ministry of Education representatives, members of the public had the opportunity to address the room with their questions and concerns.

Among the issues raised were common concerns which included the need for more local autonomy in the decision-making process (school closures, etc.), a stronger local leadership mandate, and looking into how to share facilities between the school boards and local municipalities, such as libraries, parks, and daycares.

Regarding whether there had been a common theme or concern raised throughout the Rural Strategy Meetings across the province, Rinaldi said that a lack of communication on the local level regarding all aspects of decision-making had been raised on numerous occasions.

Rinaldi explained he wanted people to remember the core of all decisions made in relation to education must be made with the students in mind, and it is important they continue to be involved in having a voice in these matters that will ultimately have the most impact on them.

Parents and members of the public who were unable to attend the meeting still have an opportunity to provide feedback in the Rural Education Strategy Meeting Workbook. An online version can be found and submitted at ontario.ca/ruralschools.