Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

Post-Secondary Delays

Statistics Canada has recently released a report (http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/030704/d030704a.htm) on a study done of 20 year-olds and their attendance (or not) of post-secondary education. The study shows that there are a number of factors that can be used to predict if people graduating from high-school will not go on immediately to post-secondary education. The most significant factor, apparently, is the family of the student. Students whose parents do not have post-secondary degrees or who feel that a post-secondary education isn’t important are three times more likely to not go on to post-secondary education immediately.

Another significant factor is the amount of hours the student spent in paid employment during the last year of high-school. Students who worked 30 hours a week or more were significantly less likely to attend university after graduation.

More expected factors, perhaps, were such things as the average grades of the student, whether their friends were planning to attend post-secondary, and whether the student was able to receive grants, scholarships or bursaries. Lower grades, fewer friends planning to attend and a lack of access to money all had correlations with not attending university.

Perhaps less expected was simply that the province of the student also had a significant effect. Specifically, those students living in Newfoundland, Manitoba, or Alberta were less likely to attend post-secondary right after high-school than their counterparts across the country, and students in Quebec were more likely. This should be especially concerning for a province, like Alberta, that supposedly prides itself on a strategy of life-long learning.

Yet in some ways this delay, especially in Alberta, is hardly surprising. Since we know that having parents who do not value post-secondary increases the chances of not attending right away it should be no surprise that a government that does not value post-secondary, as shown by its continued choices in both funding and legislation, does not fare any better.

Manitoba Praises Violence

The Culture, Heritage and Tourism Minister of Manitoba, Eric Robinson, recently honoured (http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/press/top/2003/07/2003-07-04-02.html) boxing champions Donny “Golden Boy” Lalonde and Virgil “Quicksilver” Hill for their contributions to brain damage throughout Canada.

Winnipeg native Lalonde has a record of 41 wins, 4 losses, and 1 draw. A record that includes 32 knockouts. Of course, in real terms, this means Lalonde has basically beaten people to the point where they could not stand up – in other words where they suffered some form of concussion – some 32 times. The minister says that Lalonde and Hill are positive role models and give young people “living, breathing examples of what can be achieved through hard work and perseverance,” not to mention being willing to pummel someone into submission for money and fame. Strangely, the same thing occurs outside of the ring, often by people with similar middle nick-names, yet in those cases we call it organized crime and assault – certainly not a positive role model.

I have a hard time understanding people who enjoy boxing, and even more difficulty understanding those who would pay to see it. It’s not simply the violence that disturbs me, as I’m quite happy to watch and laugh at professional wrestling, it’s the idea that in this ring are not two people trying to put on a good show for an audience, but rather the idea that in this ring are two people genuinely trying to hurt each other for money. Promoting this type of sport as a good example of a career path for people strikes me as foolish, especially in Canada where the taxpayers will wind up paying for it if any permanent damage is ever done.

But then again I’ve never boxed. Maybe once you’ve been hit in the head enough it makes more sense.

B.C. Brains

British Columbia high-school and post-secondary students have returned home with over three-quarters of them winning medals in the Canadian Skills Competition (http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/nrm_news_releases/2003BCED0048-000618.htm). This is the highest proportion of any team and included 9 gold, 15 silver, and 3 bronze medals.

Unfortunately, this is one of the challenges that it would be difficult for Athabasca University students or students from any distance education program to compete in. Since the teams are organized on a geographical basis, for students where geography is not a factor such recognition becomes difficult to attain.

We can hope that as distance education becomes more accepted, the idea of students from certain provinces will be replaced by that of students from certain institutions. If it is, it will give us another means by which to tell how much a degree from any specific place is worth.

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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