New Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen says the Manitoba government is exploring significant changes to the education system. Goertzen says it has been a hectic few weeks as he makes the transition to Education after two-and-a-half years as Health Minister. He adds there are constant briefings on the various files and it's a bit like trying to drink water from a fire hose; you're getting a little bit but there is a lot more that's flying by. Goertzen says he is going to examine things like the possibility of merging school divisions into a more regional model.

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen"You look at some other provinces (and cities), you know Edmonton and Calgary, cities that are larger than the City of Winnipeg and they only have one school division. And so the question is; Why do we need so many, maybe, in Winnipeg or in different parts of rural Manitoba? Maybe there's a good answer for that in Manitoba, maybe the Manitoba context is different. But I think that will have to be explored because, on the face of it, something doesn't seem quite right here. That's part of what the consultation will be about."

Goertzen explains the Education Department will launch a consultation process in January that will last about five or six months to examine questions like this related to the structure of education. He says they want to hear from school boards, teachers and the general public on this.

Goertzen adds his department will also continue an examination of the curriculum because our students are not currently getting what they need.

"We're not doing well compared to other provinces when it comes to literacy and math skills and science skills. There has been some work already that's taken place in terms of looking at the curriculum. I think we need to do that more intensely. Other provinces are looking at changing their curriculum, looking at perhaps how some of the training happens with teachers to ensure that we're getting the best outcomes we can for students. That work has been happening in the department and I think it will be intensifying a little bit more."

Goertzen says he will also be meeting with the leaders of universities and colleges in the province over the next few months to get a better handle on issues facing post-secondary education. He wants to look at things like keeping education affordable, yet making sure that the quality of education properly prepares students for the labour force.