Without opportunities to access a basic education, many adult learners in BC will not have the literacy, numeracy or computer skills needed for employment training, nor will they be able to access trades and other post-secondary learning.
The new funding rules coming from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Advanced Education have created different sets of rules for adult learners at school boards and at community colleges and other post-secondary institutions.
If you already have a high school diploma, you must now pay for any upgrading or courses you find yourself needing.
If you don’t have a high school diploma, your courses are free at school boards, but you must pay at colleges or other post-secondary institutions. These differences in funding create problems of access for adult learners.
Many communities in BC don’t have school board courses for adults, and adult learners in other jurisdictions, who would ordinarily access literacy, numeracy and the full range of levels of basic education courses at community colleges in urban centres – and at other public post-secondary locations in remote communities, must pay steep tuition fees to learn to read, write and do math.
The current situation has created confusion for adult learners who now must navigate a more complex, costly and uncertain basic education.
The BC Education Guarantee has been lost in the current scenario.
Furthermore, different rules for different populations render the government mandate to provide for adult basic education unworkable and unaffordable.
Above all, the basic right to a basic education is denied: there is no longer a second chance for adult learners, and government is pulling away from its duty to provide for the full range of public adult basic education programming in BC, from fundamental levels to graduation.
2 thoughts on “Articulating what we have lost”
This is a great synopsis of the ABE tuition fee policy and its consequences. As MLAs head back to the legislature, it seems that this very text would be ideal to include in a letter to MLAs, ministry officials in both Ministry of Education and Advanced Education, as well as members of the opposition. There is no better time than the present to get this message out, particularly as the government announces a balanced budget.
The prompt for this piece came after a CKNW interviewer mistakenly assumed that non-graduated adult learners could simply transfer to school board programs where they would not have to pay tuition fees. It’s not as simple as that, for several reasons:
Many school board jurisdictions in BC, especially in rural and remote communities, do not have adult education programs.
Rural and remote communities often house ABE at post-secondary locations. This, in fact, represents a logical and cost effective use of educational resources.
School boards offering ABE would have to substantially increase their capacity, the breadth of their courses, and their budgets, in order to absorb ABE students from other jurisdictions and regions.
Moving forward, it is necessary that adult learners, who already navigate substantial barriers to a basic education and are often the working poor, have ready access to programs and flexible scheduling in their neighbourhoods and their regions.
For these reasons, funding rules for adult basic education learners must be consistent across jurisdictions.