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Manitoba fares poorly on education report card

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Manitoba barely earns a passing grade when it comes to educational performance measured against other Canadian provinces and international jurisdictions.

According to a release put out by the Conference Board of Canada this morning, Manitoba earned an overall grade of "D" in the How Canada Performs: Education and Skills report card. Overall, the province ranked 17th among 26 jurisdictions, which included 10 provinces and countries like the United States, Japan, France, Australia, Finland and the Netherlands.

The report looked at education data from 2011 and 2012.

"Manitoba compares favourably with peer countries on the share of the overall population that have completed high school and college," offered Conference Board of Canada vice-president of business strategy Michael Bloom in a statement. "On the downside, Manitoba students perform poorly on reading, math and science skills compared to other provinces and international peers."

Manitoba did do well in some categories of the report. The province scored "A" grades in high school attainment, with 86 per cent of the population having graduated from high school, and in the "equity in learning outcomes indicator," a category which measures the gap in math performance between Canadian-born and immigrant students.

According to the report, over 23 per cent of the test subjects in Manitoba were immigrant students, a number that bodes well for the province as it actively seeks to attract new immigrants, according to the report.

Manitoba struggled in the student assessment category. Performance in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test of 15-year-olds was below average overall, with one "C" grade and five "D" grades on student scores for reading, math and science skills.

Manitoba earned slightly better grades in measures of adult skills, earning two "B" grades and four "C" grades in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in technology-rich environments.

The province also earned "C" grades for having a relatively small share of the population with a university degree (23.5 per cent; B.C. was tops among provinces at 29 per cent) and for its relatively large gap between genders in tertiary education, where more women earn post secondary degrees than men.

Subsequently, Manitoba earned "D-minus" grades for the number of PhD graduates in 2011 and the number of math, science, computer science and engineering students graduating in 2011. Canada as a whole struggled to match its international rivals, finishing near the bottom and earning only a "D" grade in both areas.

The How Canada Performs project is a continuing research program at the Conference Board of Canada to help identify relative strengths and weaknesses in Canada’s socio-economic performance. The Education and Skills summary is the second of six report cards to be released over the next year.

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