Adult basic education (ABE) is the provision of elementary and secondary level education to adults through BC’s K-12 school system and most public post-secondary institutions.

ABE provides access to a variety of courses and skills training ranging from basic literacy to adult high school graduation. It also supports learners in improving their employability and life skills in addition to helping adult learners attain basic upgrading in preparation for further education. The post-secondary system is used as a delivery method for adult basic education in recognition that many adults achieve a higher rate of success and seek further education when studying in a college or university environment.

Adult basic education is an integral component of BC’s education system and economic prosperity, providing a wide range of programs to students who require additional training or skills upgrading in order to participate fully in society and the economy. ABE also plays an important role in increasing adult literacy and improving high school completion and post-secondary participation rates within BC’s Aboriginal population.

To be effective, adult basic education must be accessible to all who need it. Recognizing this, the BC Liberals eliminated tuition fees for ABE in 2007. In December 2014, Christy Clark’s Liberal government announced they would be ending this policy, no longer requiring that adult basic education be tuition fee-free. Following years of declining investment by the provincial government, a $15 million funding cut to adult basic education programming was also announced, further eroding these programs.

Check out the full British Columbia Federation of Students 2015 Adult Basic Education Backgrounder report.

BC Federation of Students


The BC Federation of Students represents over 170,000 students from 14 institutions across BC. Together these students advocate for affordable + accessible post-secondary education.