Lynn Horvat, an adult educator at VCC, has just completed her study, Re-Framing the Conversation: Respecting Adult Basic Education in BC (2014), on ABE policy in BC. Her report is an excellent source of accessible information on adult education policies in BC and in Canada, neoliberal effects on access to education, policy rules, portraits of adult basic education students, statistics on public funding for adult education and even an inclusion of the implications of the recently announced tuition fee policy for ABE students. Lynn’s work adds more weight to the view shared by many in in the ABE and ESL fields that what is happening in these sectors today offers a glimpse into what may be in store for our publicly funded K – 12 education system:
ABE students can sign the ‘squash the squeeze‘ petition which asks politicians to reduce tuition fees, address student debt, lower the prohibitive interest rates offered to students and re-instate grants with a higher income cut off.
Selkirk college has announced it will not be charging tuition fees to ABE students in the new year, providing there is no change to the terms of their operating grants. College President Angus Graeme offers this rationale:
“In particular, ABE provides accessible educational opportunities for adult students in many communities throughout the region and from a broad range of socio-economic circumstances. For many students it represents a critical transition back into the education system.”
Matthew Jameson, President of the Selkirk College Students’ Union Local 4 notes that:
“Colleges require [ABE courses] as pre-requisites to get into programs and the people going into the ABE are often from the lower income bracket so charging $320 makes everything worse.”
As reported in the Vancouver Sun, the VSB has sent a letter to Minister of Education Peter Fassbender asking him to reverse his decision to cut funding for adult students in school districts who want to upgrade or gain university entry. The VSB estimates that 1500 students will be affected by these cuts.
This fact sheet produced by the Canadian Federation of Students is designed as an advocacy and information tool. It offers excellent information about the history of ABE policy in BC and the role of ABE in personal lives, family life, economic participation and socio-economic equality.
The Canadian Federation of Students offers this history of the fight to keep ABE free in BC. Interesting to note that in the early 2000s, fees for ABE courses leading to an Adult Graduation and academic upgrading were higher than fees for courses leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees. The result was a huge decline in enrolment in ABE courses. It seems that the same policy, widely decried at the time as punishing toward low income citizens, was re-introduced in December 2014.
This article by Katie Hyslop in the Tyee cites VCC the faculty association that the proposed $1600 in tuition fees per term for ABE students is too high. Tuition fees for a Masters degree in Education at SFU are between $1500 and $1700 per term, and many registrants are already earning salaries as teachers when the enrol in M. Ed and MA programs. So, teachers pay the same amount to gain further training and a graduate degree as their basic education students do to complete their secondary school requirements.