Andrew Wilkinson is the brand new minister of Advanced Education. This letter was written to the new Minister by adult educator Melinda Worfolk regarding the consequences of these cuts for adults in her community. Are you writing letters to the Minister, your institution and to your local papers? If so, please consider sharing them here.
PS: Visit Melinda’s Education Blog for more thoughts on ABE tuition cuts as well many other great adult learning resources.
Dear Minister Wilkinson:
I teach in the College and Career Prep (adult basic education) program at the College of New Caledonia, and every semester, I see the life changing positive impacts for students who are finishing, continuing, or updating their high school education. Adult basic education (ABE) provides many of them with the key to a better life through increased literacy, a high school diploma, a job that pays a living wage, or entrance to higher education/skilled training. ABE gives people the opportunity to become fully participating citizens in their own communities.
In recent months, the BC government has emphasized that post-secondary institutions must improve student access to skills training and higher education, in order to meet BC’s need for more skilled and educated workers.
Therefore, I was shocked when your predecessor, the Honourable Amrik Virk, recently announced the Ministry of Advanced Education’s intentions to make large cuts to ABE base funding. Post-secondary institutions will be expected to make up the difference, with an emphasis on the reinstatement of ABE tuition fees–as high as $1600 per semester. This is untenable for most of our students. Some of the savings is supposed to be put into grants, but these are limited funds that are difficult for students to access and qualify for. Ironically, providing the funding directly to institutions would be more cost-efficient.
By reducing ABE funding, the BC government will also be reducing access to education for its most vulnerable citizens. The Ministry’s own research has shown time and time again that it is primarily Aboriginal people, women, and low-income learners who access ABE programs and benefit most greatly from them.
Please rethink this damaging, shortsighted decision and reverse the plans to cut funding from these vital programs. It is a small investment that pays enormous, long term economic and social dividends for our communities.