Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World

Canadian Government Folds on Education (again)

I was shocked last week to read a story in Globe and Mail that they were allowing Inukshuk Wireless (a telephone company owned by Rogers and Bell) to discontinue its funding of educational multi-media projects.

By way of background in 2000 the federal government offered bandwidth that was being reserved for educational use, to the private sector. But one of the conditions was that the winner had to propose a funding arrangement to return value to the education system. This bandwidth had been allocated to education back in the days when everyone thought that educational TV would be a big deal. In Manitoba and Sask, they were using the bandwidth, so they were not made to give up the bandwidth, nor reap any compensatory services.

So Inukshuk won the bid, began issuing calls for proposals to develop educational media and developed a system to administer this funding. The 2009 call offered $2.4 million for projects, as per the terms of the agreement. Naturally, Inukshuk would rather not have to cover this expense, so I assume, went whining to the federal government. Our Conservative government, not wanting to get involved in business nor displease their corporate backers, allowed them to cease funding the programming. This was done without consultation nor notification, beyond that the fund was no longer operational.

I realize that Canada is plagued with a system that does not allow for national learning programs, but why on earth – except for ideological bias, would a government allow a company to renege on a contractual agreement, that has brought needed investment to Canadian education?

I hope other Canadians  will join me in writing to Industry Minster Tony Clement, asking him who he is governing on behalf of and to demand that this contract be fulfilled as negotiated.

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