Thursday, August 24, 2017

Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning tuition-free again

August 8, 2017 by Adam Marsh, student editor

British Columbia premier John Horgan announced Tuesday morning at Camosun College’s Lansdowne campus that Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English Language Learning (ELL) would be reinstated as free programs for post-secondary institutions across BC. Horgan called these programs “a right” during the press conference and said that more information, including costs, would be outlined in September’s budget.

Horgan said this would benefit all Canadians.

(From left) BC minister of education Rob Fleming, BC premier John Horgan, and BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark at Camosun College (photo by Adam Marsh/Nexus).

“Students getting ready for university, adult learners going back to school to upgrade their skills so they can improve their opportunities, or just getting a high-school diploma, Adult Basic Education, for all of us, should be free,” he said. “It should be a right and we’re going to follow through on that commitment.”

Horgan said there has been a 35-percent decline in enrolment in those programs as a result of 2015 decisions made by the Liberal government to cut funding to ABE and ELL and start charging tuition to those programs.

“That’s meant thousands of people have missed out on an opportunity to make life better for themselves and for their families,” he said. “We can’t afford to leave people behind; as a new government, we want to make sure that everyone can participate in our economy; that means everyone having access to the basic skills they need to make sure that education is foundational for them, foundational for their children, and their grandchildren.”

Camosun College Student Society (CCSS) external executive Rachael Grant says this is a step in the right direction, but there is still much more the CCSS would like to see—such as institutional funding, lower tuition fees, and more needs-based grants—in terms of making education more accessible.

“It’s a really great start,” says Grant. “This isn’t the only thing we need for accessible education; this is a step in the right direction, though.”

Minister of advanced education, skills and training Melanie Mark—who took office on July 18—says the former policies made it too difficult for people to access education.

“We’re thrilled that we’re going to make a difference in people’s lives throughout the province,” says Mark. “We listened to educators [and] students, about how unfair this policy was and about how it created an unnecessary barrier for people to complete their Grade 12, to get into the work force, to go back to school and enter post-secondary.”

Mark says that this is a memorable day for everyone, including herself.

“This is a really big day for students, and we’re just thrilled to be a part of that announcement,” she says. “It’s a great day as a minister to be able to say, ‘This is what our message is to students in British Columbia.’”

Horgan said that the government will work with schools to do their best to ensure that students who have already paid for ABE or ELL for September will get a refund.

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