Saturday, February 24, 2018

Parliamentary committee recommends government reinstate Adult Basic Education funding

December 2, 2015 by Wendy Snedden, contributing writer

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, a parliamentary committee, recently recommended that government reinstate funding to Adult Basic Education (ABE), and student groups are backing their recommendation.

According to Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia chairperson Simka Marshall, it’s important that ABE be tuition-free and that no student is turned away because of costs.

“ABE is really important because it serves as a stepping stone,” says Marshall. “It’ll help someone stay in the trades or in the job market.”

Marshall says that those enrolled in ABE are some of BC’s most marginalized students. Many are low-income earners, and 18 percent of ABE learners are indigenous, she says, adding that many use ABE to upgrade their high-school courses in order to qualify for college, trade, or university programs.

Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia’s Simka Marshall says ABE should be tuition-free (photo provided).

Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia’s Simka Marshall says ABE should be tuition-free (photo provided).

Marshall says that the committee recommendation is positive because the recommendations will go to the minister of finance when creating next year’s budget.

“We are really hopeful that because the committee heard from many different organizations and individuals about the importance of ABE, the government will take that seriously and reinstate funding in the budget,” says Marshall.

Minister of advanced education Andrew Wilkinson says the reason that ABE funding was cut in the first place was because delivery costs of ABE increased. Wilkinson says that the decision to cut funding was made in order to “ensure sustainability of these important programs.”

MLA George Heyman is a member of the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services; he says ABE is important because it creates opportunity for new immigrants and people who left school for various reasons to upgrade their education.

“There is very little that we can do that will bring greater equality to our society than to ensure that everybody gets as much education as they want and as they are able to assimilate so that they can use that education to be better citizens and more productive in the workforce,” says Heyman.

MLA Carole James, the opposition spokesperson for finance, says ABE programs help break the cycle of poverty.

“I’m a huge believer in providing opportunity for people, in providing a hand up, not a hand out,” she says. “And I see Adult Basic Education as that hand up.”

But not everyone feels the same way about ABE funding. In a government press release, minister of education Peter Fassbender said that high school is free, but further upgrading is not.

“I think it is reasonable to expect adults who’ve already graduated to contribute to these costs,” he said in the press release (Fassbender did not reply to an interview request by deadline).

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services announced their recommendation to reinstate ABE funding in their Report on Budget 2016 Consultations.

ABE funding was cut on January 1, 2015 after being tuition-free for eight years. Federal funding was replaced with an adult upgrading grant with specific eligibility requirements. Information regarding the eligibility requirements for the grant can be found at

ABE programs help adults get training for basic and vocational skills, and offer a way to get a secondary-school diploma.

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One Response to “Parliamentary committee recommends government reinstate Adult Basic Education funding”
  1. Michael Subasic says:

    Thank you Nexus for covering an important decision.

    I was kind of confused about whether this was a federal committee or a provincial committee making the decision. It was clarified later on in the article. There is some overlap of jurisdictions on ABE and we need to put pressure on both levels of government.