SASKATCHEWAN MINISTER SAYS NO TO YNN
Sat 19 Feb 2000
REGINA (CP) - Saskatchewan's education minister is asking schools to just say no to the controversial Youth News Network. Saskatchewan Education Minister Jim Melenchuk sent letters earlier this month to all school divisions in the province asking them not to sign contracts with Athena Educational Partners, the company operating the TV network.
``YNN is not a partnership, it's a commercial venture,'' Melenchuk told a group of Regina teachers last week.
However, Melenchuk said school boards have the autonomy to sign contracts with YNN if they wish, but added a warning. ``All we can say is, it doesn't receive the stamp of approval from the provincial government.''
School boards in Regina and Saskatoon have already rejected YNN, but seven schools, mainly in rural areas, have already signed up with the Montreal-based company.
Under the YNN contract, schools receive a 27-inch TV for each classroom, a lab with 25 computers and a satellite dish. In return, students watch a daily classroom YNN newscast of 10 minutes along with 2 1/2 minutes of com mercials.
Critics, including the Canadian Teachers Federation and the Canadian Association of Media Education Organizations, say it's an intrusion of commercial interests into the classroom. But YNN says it produces quality programming and helps schools acquire up-to-date equipment that they would otherwise not have access to. The company also says it sets strict guidelines on the type of advertising it allows.
About 30 schools across Canada are taking part in the YNN project, but in several jurisdictions it has received a frosty reception.
In Manitoba, the province told eight schools which had signed contracts to terminate YNN at the end of the trial period and has told other school divisions not to sign up. (Regina Leader-Post)
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