VICTORIA—Among the many promises and commitments in yesterday’s Speech from the Throne was the announcement that that the BC Liberal government would reverse its funding cuts to Adult Basic Education (ABE). ABE programs, primarily high school equivalent and literacy courses for adults returning to school for retraining, were free until spring 2015.
“Students and faculty have been campaigning for the restoration of ABE funding for the last two years, and it’s encouraging to see both the BC Liberals and BC NDP on the same page with this issue,” said Simka Marshall, Chairperson of the British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS).
In 2014, the BC Liberals cut $6.9 million from adult basic education programming at post-secondary institutions in BC and removed the tuition fee-free mandate. A further $9 million was cut from adult basic education programming in the K-12 system. Public post-secondary institutions currently charge $1,600 per term in tuition fees for full-time ABE courses. Since the funding cuts, institutions have seen dramatic enrollment drops of 20 to 60 percent across the province.
“The cuts in ABE funding and application of tuition fees have resulted in a dramatic drop in enrolment, and have prevented thousands of low-income citizens from accessing the retraining they need for BC’s changing labour market,” said Marshall. “The restoration of this funding is good news for those adults looking to go back to school, and we hope that with the funding commitment comes a reinstatement of the tuition fee-free mandate.”
In 2015 students launched a province-wide campaign calling on the provincial government to stop the cuts to ABE funding and reverse the introduction of tuition fees. The campaign, titled “Don’t Close the Doors”, can be found at www.DontCloseTheDoors.ca, and has been endorsed by community organizations, labour unions, and 23 municipalities representing nearly one million British Columbians.
The British Columbia Federation of Students is composed of over 150,000 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.