Canada increases access to distance education in the Caribbean

St. Johns, Antigua — 21st May, 2013 — The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), today announced that Canada will assist young people in the Caribbean to gain greater access to post-secondary education. Minister Ablonczy made the announcement today in Antigua at the University of West Indies Open Campus on behalf of the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, as part of her seven-day, seven-country tour of the Eastern Caribbean. Also in attendance were the Honourable Winston Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda; Professor E. Nigel Harris, Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, (UWI); and Professor Hazel Simmons- McDonald, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the UWI Open Campus.

Canada is committed to helping countries in the Caribbean build a more prosperous and integrated community, generate sustainable economic growth and increase opportunities for its citizens, said Minister Ablonczy. “Helping the region’s young people develop the high-level skills needed to contribute to the work force is a key step toward reaching those goals.”

Canada’s engagement in the Americas seeks to work with partners to advance three goals: to increase economic opportunity, strengthen security and institutions, and foster lasting relationships.

The University of West Indies Open Campus will be the main implementing partner of this project. The University of the West Indies serves 16 Caribbean countries and territories. Advances in communication technologies have helped to expand access to post-secondary education, reduce costs in learning resources, and reach learners in remote and rural communities. The project will help increase access to post-secondary education for remote and under-served communities at up to 42 learning sites across the Caribbean using distance education technologies. The ultimate aim of the Strengthening Distance Education in the Caribbean project is to increase employment opportunities of Caribbean citizens and generate economic prosperity.

The project will support economic growth and increased employment through the development of human capital, said Minister Fantino. “By integrating higher education into the Caribbean, Canada is enhancing the ability of Caribbean countries to address the economic and labour market challenges they face, ultimately helping to lift millions of people out of poverty.”

Canada is a leader in promoting economic opportunity in the Americas, and Economic Action Plan 2013 affirms Canada’s commitment to international development investments such as access to education for children and youth. The new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development will maintain the mandate of poverty alleviation, and help the Government of Canada achieve greater efficiency, accountability and focus to continue to improve the lives of people in need around the world.

Minister Ablonczy’s visit to the region is part of ongoing efforts to deepen Canada’s engagement in the Americas. For more information on Minister Ablonczy’s tour of the Eastern Caribbean, please visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) website.

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