Michaels: Province should think twice before ending funding to adult high school programming

This government is all about economic engagement, or so they've said between occasions to hack away at the social welfare net

There are few things the provincial government has done in terms of education that made me think; ‘wow, these are good people running our province.'”

The one instance I remember was the 2008 decision to offer tuition-free adult education to those getting high school level prerequisites for post secondary programs. That funding has been a help for those who needed a boost onto the path of higher education and earning. This year alone in the Central Okanagan 150 adults  are enrolled on the province’s dime.

It seems like a solid investment.

As a late bloomer whose gap year turned into a gap five-year, I had to take a few high school courses  so I could enter the university program of my choice.

It was 1998, and I was working a thankless low wage job, living on my own, and the thought I’d have to pay for high school courses was discouraging.

It wasn’t impossible. My youth had its advantages, the most significant of which at that point being that I was my only responsibility and I had already been given a clear idea of the life I wanted to live.

But what if I didn’t have that edge, like so many others?

Chances are, if I had a child to care for, or any significant financial burden or impediment, dishing out a few hundred bucks on classes I already had a whack at would have been enough of a stumbling block that further education would have been off the agenda entirely.

It would have taken away my earning power, and my ability to further invest in the economy financially and socially.

It would have also significantly diminished my child’s chances at engaging in the economy in those same ways.

This government is all about economic engagement, or so they’ve said between occasions to hack away at the social welfare net and opening the door for ever-increasing tuition rates at post secondary institutions.  So I’m confused about this decision to obscure the view of upward mobility for those who need it most by axing funding for adult high school upgrading.

Career options for those who don’t have post secondary training of some sort are pretty bleak for British Columbians. It’s a pretty safe assumption that those adults who haven’t already engaged in some higher learning aren’t in a position to shell out the estimated $425 it takes to afford the high school courses that will allow them to gain entry to establishments of higher learning.

And, for the record, there are no student loans or payment plans available for high school programs, although there are grants for the lowest income earners. Not enough to make up for what’s being taken away, but something… if you’re looking for that kind of thing.

Even if you’re not, and you have the means to pay, think how programming will atrophy as those who are no longer able to attend high school programming turn their back on post secondary options.

All in all, it’s kick in the gut to those who need a shot at getting a better crack at life. Not the kind of move that should go unnoticed, at the very least.

Changes to the program are going to be set in stone as of May 1. Let’s not let it pass unnoticed and remind our elected officials that it’s not fair or good to make cuts to those who need help most.

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