Government cuts to adult education is bad social and economic policy: BCTF


THE government’s decision to cancel funding for adults working to upgrade their education is ill-conceived policy on both the social and economic fronts, BCTF President Jim Iker said on Wednesday

“By putting up financial barriers to adults seeking to upgrade their skills, the BC Liberal government is making it much more difficult for hard-working people to further their education, gain valuable experience, and eventually secure well-paying jobs. Doing away with tuition-free high school courses for adult learners will force many out of the programs and potentially lead to the cancellation of academic courses and, ultimately, job losses.

“Those impacted most by these cuts to adult basic education will likely be people in BC’s immigrant and Aboriginal communities. Cutting funding to adults striving to improve their education makes no sense from an economic or a social policy perspective. It’s just one more sign the BC Liberal government is determined to continue its record of underfunding BC’s education system.”

The Ministry of Education announced last week that the cuts to adult basic education for those who already have their Dogwood diploma would take effect on May 1, 2015—effectively closing down the end of a school year. BC teachers who work in adult education have already been called into emergency staff meetings where district staff are unable to articulate what programs, courses, or jobs will be lost.

Iker provided several examples of ways these cuts will negatively impact current and future learners:

* There are many British Columbians who graduated from high school with bare passes in English 12, Communications 12, or Math courses. They need the opportunity to upgrade those marks to be eligible for many different post-secondary programs.

* Some BC high school graduates didn’t take the courses that are pre-requisites for occupational programs. For example, Biology 12 is now a pre-requisite for Care Aide training. In addition, post-secondary institutions require that it be taken in the last five years. So, once again, lack of funding for these courses creates a barrier for the working poor or those returning to the workplace.

* At the Invergarry Adult Education Centre in Surrey alone these cuts will impact hundreds of students who have their high school diploma. Approximately 300 people will face new financial barriers because of this policy change.

“The uncertainty this policy announcement has created for adult students and educators midway through a school year is completely unacceptable,” said Iker. “The government needs to step back, reverse this flawed decision and fund adult basic education properly in BC. Our province should be prioritizing programs like these that train adults looking to find well-paying jobs that can support their families.”