Economic issues dominated discussion today, Oct. 29, between Premier Rodney MacDonald and members of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. It was the latest in a series of meetings with business leaders in Nova Scotia. Premier MacDonald said that with the global economic situation dominating headlines, now is the time for the people of the province to work together to ensure stability. “We will get through these difficulties,” said the Premier. “Government needs to show leadership in times like this, but part of leadership is working with people, listening to their ideas, and getting feedback on initiatives that have already begun.” The Premier reiterated his commitment to a balanced budget. He said if that means making hard decisions regarding spending, then he is willing to make those decisions. “Other provinces are running deficits, but we are not going to run a deficit,” he said. “I am absolutely committed to that.” Chamber officials told the premier that so far, consumer confidence in Nova Scotia remains strong, and urged the premier and government to take action to ensure that businesses and consumers remain optimistic about the province’s economic situation. “So far, business hasn’t been affected too much, but it can take six months or so for the impact to start showing up in stores and businesses around the province,” said Valerie Payn, president of the Halifax Chamber. “We need to work together to ensure consumer confidence doesn’t erode.” Other issues discussed at the meeting included downtown Halifax development, the province’s tax review, and the shortage of skilled labour in Nova Scotia. The premier will meet with the Nova Scotia Chamber of Commerce next month. Last week, he met with members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The premier will also attend the first ministers meeting on the economy being hosted by the prime minister in early November.
The paper also shows critical gaps in the education of older children aged 12 to 15. Globally, 63 million adolescents were out of school in 2012. Although numbers have fallen by nearly one-third since 2000 in South and West Asia, the region has the largest population of out-of-school adolescents at 26 million. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 21 million out-of-school adolescents and their numbers will continue to grow if current trends continue.According to the UNESCO paper, abolishing school fees, introducing more relevant curricula, devoting increased attention to ethnic and linguistic minorities and providing financial support to families in need could have a positive role in promoting and extending the right to education to every human being.Burundi, for instance, has abolished school fees, increasing the percentage of primary school enrollment from 54 per cent to 94 per cent in six years. Morocco has given space to ethnic and linguistic minorities and has introduced the teaching of the local Amazigh language in primary schools significantly increasing the number of children with access to education, according to the paper.Also, between 2000 and 2010, the number of children in Viet Nam gaining the chance to receive primary education has more than doubled. The country has introduced a new curriculum that focuses particularly on disadvantaged learners. In another successful example, Ghana witnessed the rise from 2.4 million children enrolled in school in 1999 to 4.1 million in 2013, mainly by doubling its expenditure programme on education.All those countries are prefect examples on how certain policies have proven successful to increase the number of children with access to education and could offer useful lessons for other countries around the world.Ms. Bokova stressed that progress is possible and that many countries have been key examples in driving positive changes in education for all. She also suggested that every country should ensure education for every citizen and teach them the skills to lead a productive and healthy life. “Others can learn from the experiences of these countries: they show that real progress is possible and we owe it to children to pursue it” she concluded. “Combined with UNESCO’s recent news that aid to education has fallen yet again, the lack of progress in reducing out of school numbers confirms our fears – there is no chance whatsoever that countries will reach the goal of universal primary education by 2015,” said UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, in a press release on the launch of the agency’s new policy paper.She is expected to present this new data at a press conference in Brussels today during a pledging conference organized by the Global Partnership for Education, where donors and countries are expected to renew their commitment to get all children in school and learning.The UNESCO Institute for Statistics produced the policy paper, which also shows that 15 million girls and 10 million boys, constituting around 43 per cent of those out of school, are unlikely to ever get access to primary education if the current situation remains the same.“We cannot meet this news with further inertia. On the contrary, we must sound the alarm and mobilize the political will to ensure that every child’s right to education is respected” she declared.The report underlines also how 17 countries have succeed in bringing education to their population and have successfully reduced the number of out-of-school children by almost 90 percent in a little over a decade.The lack of global progress is largely due to high population growth in sub-Saharan Africa, now home to more than 30 million out-of-school children. Most of them will never start school and those who do are at risk of dropping out. Across the region, more than one in three children who entered the educational system in 2012 will leave before reaching the last grade of primary school, UNESCO says. OVER 40% OF THE 58 MILLION OUT OF SCHOOL CHILDREN WILL NEVER ENTER A CLASSROOM