VANCOUVER– Following its annual province-wide consultation process, the BC Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services has endorsed students’ call for more affordable education, and the restoration of funding to adult basic education (ABE).
“These two recommendations were identified by students across BC as key initiatives to make our Advanced Education system better,” said Simka Marshall, Chairperson of the British Columbia Federation of Students. “The Committee has made these recommendations before, but government has yet to take action.”
The bi-partisan Committee’s report recommends the reinstatement of funding for adult basic education and English as-a-Second Language (ESL) programs, and returning these programs to tuition-free status. ABE programs provide a range of high school-equivalent courses for young adults and older citizens returning to school for retraining, including adult special education and basic literacy programs. ESL programs provide basic English language training, primarily to new Canadians needing basic literacy skills to enter the job market.
“While ABE and ESL programs have been free of tuition fees in the past, they have also been critically underfunded,” said Marshall. “For these programs to successfully support BC’s labour market, they need to be both free of tuition fees and fully funded.”
The BC Liberal-dominated Committee also recommended that the province establish a needs-based system of grants for post-secondary students, and that interest rates charged on student loans be reviewed.
“BC lags behind other provinces when it comes to dealing with student debt and making sure education is accessible to all citizens,” said Marshall. “Reducing interest rates on student loans and creating a needs-based grants system are two ways Budget 2017 could put families first.”
The British Columbia Federation of Students is composed of post-secondary students from 14 universities and colleges in every region in BC. Post-secondary students in British Columbia have been represented by the British Columbia Federation of Students and its predecessor organizations since 1966.