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February 12, 2003

New Brunswick for Education

Premier Bernard Lord has set the province of New Brunswick on a course for future prosperity. His State of the Province Address (SEE:, delivered on Jan 30th, shows that he is a man who understands the value brought by an educated populace. Unlike certain other Premiers (SEE:, Premier Lord’s address revolved around education, both K-12 and post-secondary, and the plans his government has been making. These plans not only include making education accessible for everybody by increasing bursary amounts and university funding amounts significantly, but also include plans for keeping university graduates within the province of New Brunswick.

To do this, the Provincial Government is starting a program whereby companies that employ new graduates will have governmental assistance in paying their wages for the first two years. This not only encourages businesses to hire students earlier during their education, but also encourages more people to become post-secondary students, as they will be nearly guaranteed a position thereafter.

Probably the most insightful quote from Premier Lord is when he says in the address “: for me balancing the books is not an end unto itself, but a means to be able to invest in people, to invest in our communities. It is a means to build for the future.” It is unfortunate that not every Premier seems to have this idea, that some are simply focused on removing as much as they can from the government books, and hoping that everything will turn out alright.

Premier Lord’s address acknowledges where there are weaknesses in New Brunswick’s education system, and what’s more, makes positive plans to change these. Instead of antagonizing the Federal Government, New Brunswick works with them, and as a result is part of a 400 million dollar shared program to improve the infrastructure of the Province.

All in all, Premier Lord sets up a tall order for himself, his government, and the citizens of New Brunswick. If they can succeed in following through with it though, New Brunswick may well become the Province we all wish we were in.

Keep Busy this Summer

The Law Commission of Canada is looking (SEE: a summer student to help them update their web-site. If you can read French and English, this might be an opportunity to really make your resume shine.

You only have until the end of March to get your resume in, so don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Prince Edward Island to teach Japan how to speak English

ESL Finance, a company based in Prince Edward Island, has embarked (SEE: on a plan to teach English to students in China and Japan over the internet. Focussing primarily on Japan because of one of the principal founders works in Japan, the company is supported by almost half a million dollars of public funding.

What seems strange to me is that while private companies are able to teach languages over the internet, our own distance education university still has basically no interactive content on the internet at all. I expected, when I enrolled at Athabasca University and was told how they were aggressively expanding their online offerings, that we would perhaps see internet video being used to teach courses, that lectures would be offered for download, and that there would be an excellent system set up whereby students could get in touch with one another to discuss aspects of their coursework. I was also surprised to see how little it seems Athabasca University uses video teleconferencing for their courses, meetings, and other events.

Maybe AU can take a look at ESL Finance and learn a trick or two. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Entrepreneurs take Heart

While many of us taking degree programmes at Athabasca University are doing it to further our current career, there are always a few who are not exactly sure what they’ll be doing once they graduate.

To that end, it is nice to see that there is always room for entrepreneurs. For instance, Nova Scotia recently awarded (SEE: of $1000 to various businesses started by students, with the money split evenly amongst the founders.

The businesses they set up ranged from quite a few landscaping and ice-cream selling businesses to providing local advertising for other businesses, and running a “Haunted Pub Crawl” to various pubs in Halifax. So don’t give up, you never know exactly what your interests might lead to.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.

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