Provincial panel recommends restoring ABE

Non-partisan finance committee has recommended reinstatement of Adult Basic Education in 2016.

Often the perception of college students is they are young thinkers fresh out of high school and still living at home.

There’s a fair amount of those students, says the Local 4 Student Union organizer.

But she points out that the average student at Selkirk College is an adult, aged 27.

“There are those young kids coming out of high school,” said Robin Legere from the Local’s Castlegar office. “But there’s also those with mortages, families and kids. There’s a whole bunch of commitments, so having to find hundreds of dollars to go back to school would be tough.”

Selkirk College is one of the few provincial post secondary institutions that made a conscious decision not to charge students for Adult Basic Education (ABE) after the province cut $6.9 million from the program this year.

But the money has to come from somewhere. So news the non-partisan finance committee has recommended reinstatement of ABE funding in 2016 is welcome to Legere, who says basic education is a fundamental that every student deserves.

“Some of the students didn’t finish high school or maybe high school wasn’t their thing and they didn’t do well,” she explained. “But this also affect students who were good at school but didn’t take the requirements they need to go on in post secondary. “

Paying to upgrade basics like math, English or science can impede further education, says Legere.

“For a lot of students it’s being able to pursue what they want to do or not,” she said. “Because it’s not just $25, it can be up to hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on how many courses you need.”

Education is a top concern among British Columbians, according to the budget consultation report released Friday by B.C.’s non partisan finance committee.

A select standing committee of MLAs host public consultations across B.C. every fall, giving citizens an opportunity to present ideas for next year’s provincial budget.

In total, 572 submissions were received before the Oct. 15 deadline, then 63 recommendations compiled based on public responses. Notably, all recommendations were unanimously agreed to by committee members.

High priorities range from restoration of ABE funding and adequate funding for K-12 education, to the need for balanced budgets, investment in natural resource sector with green initiatives, continued investment in provincial infrastructure, taxation reviews and addressing the high cost of housing and rental accommodations.

“The consultation aspect of the budget process is an important opportunity to engage with British Columbians,” said committee chair and MLA Delta North Scott Hamilton. “Today’s report summarizes what the committee heard and makes a number of recommendations for the provincial government to consider for Budget 2016.”

Locally, a public hearing was hosted in Castlegar, attended by 10 legislative representatives, including Dan Ashton, MLA Penticton.

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