June 26, 2008
Success Stories Abound as School Year Draws to a Close
Following a successful performance at the Heritage Music Festival in New York City, Gonzaga High School�s concert choir was invited to return and perform at the Festival of Gold at Carnegie Hall. Stephenville High student Jonathan Hann was named one of 30 Loran Scholars in Canada, earning a $75,000 scholarship. Queen Elizabeth High School student John Constantine was one of only three students from across Canada invited to be part of the Canadian delegation to a conference on climate change in Bali, Indonesia.
Memorial University student Mary Winters was named one of 10 Canadian students offered a 2008 Killam Fellowship to study in the United States. MUN business students who comprise the ACE Memorial Team were runners-up for the second year in a row at the World Cup Champion Competition for Students in Free Enterprise.
"These are just a handful of examples demonstrating the accolades the students of Newfoundland and Labrador have received this year," said the Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education. "From robotics to mathematics to music, our students are recognized the world over for their creativity, talent and determination. As the school year draws to a close, it is important to recognize these students, and the thousands of others throughout the province who prove that our education system is second to none and that our investments are paying off."
This year, the education budget has seen an increase of $70 million over last year and now stands at approximately $1.1 billion. This unprecedented budget is impacting every aspect of the education system. Approximately, $88 million has been allocated for new construction and increased school repairs. The new high school skilled trades program will be available to more students with an expansion to an additional 35 schools during the 2008-09 school year. State-of-the-art physical education equipment has been provided to primary schools, completing the $3.2 million physical education purchase program. For the first time, free textbooks were provided to high school students at a cost of $12.8 million this year and science labs and classrooms are now safer with an investment of $3.2 million for new equipment and the disposal of old chemicals.
This year has also seen the implementation of recommendations stemming from reviews of student support services and teacher allocations. Changes are underway to improve the delivery of services to students with special needs and teachers are no longer assigned solely on student enrolment numbers, but primarily on the needs of individual schools.
The post-secondary system has also seen improvements this year as the result of strategic and increased investments in the college and university systems. Investments in post-secondary have increased 56.4 per cent since 2003, with the freeze on tuition rates being maintained at a cost of $32 million over the past four years. Tuition in Newfoundland and Labrador is 41 per cent lower that the national average. Combined with up-front needs based grants, debt reduction grants and reduced interest on loans, the province now has one of the best student aid packages in the country.
An investment of $2.2 million this year will expand some professional schools at MUN � engineering, business, nursing and social work � and will allow the introduction of new graduate programs at the Marine Institute. Over the past two years, an additional $18.9 million has been allocated to College of the North Atlantic to support new programming, to double the number of seats in trades-related programs, and to upgrade and purchase new equipment.
"Offering an equitable and quality education in a province as large as Newfoundland and Labrador, with many rural, remote and isolated areas is a challenge. But it is one I believe we are successfully meeting," said Minister Burke. "Investments in education are reaching into the classrooms, having a direct impact on teaching and learning. The education system in this province is something in which we can all take great pride � thanks in large measure to the professionalism and commitment of our teachers and administrators, and the dedication and drive of our students. I congratulate each of them on another successful school year, and wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer."
2008 06 26 11:55 a.m.
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