The six First Nations SchoolNet Regional Management Organizations (RMOs) from across Canada met via video conference with the new program administration on Friday, January 12. This was the first RMO meeting with INAC officials since the December 1 announcement that the First Nations SchoolNet program would be moved from Industry Canada to INAC.
Juliet Balfour, Director of Operations - Education Branch, Indian & Northern Affairs Canada, chaired the meeting. She provided an update on the work that has been completed to date and the work that is required to ensure the program is able to continue beyond its March 31, 2007 end date. She praised the RMOs for their past successes and indicated that the transfer from one federal department to another is a good indication that the program is viewed positively by the government.
The INAC officials are now preparing a Memorandum to Cabinet to continue the program for the next two years.
The First Nations SchoolNet program has provided FN schools across the country with the dollars required to construct and pay for broadband connectivity solutions so students in these remote and rural community can develop online skills and resources. In previous years, the FNS program also provided professional development training and workshop, online activities along with the hardware and software resources required to support the use of these broadband connections.
First Nation leaders and schools are encouraged to lobby INAC officials, especial INAC Minister Prentice, at every opportunity to ensure this funding program is continued.