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The Alberta Advantaged

Athabasca University’s importance to the Alberta Provincial Government was once again outlined in a recent press release (http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200311/15476.html). The Alberta Government proudly proclaims in the headline that “The official launch of eCampus Alberta means Alberta’s post-secondary students will have access to courses offered by institutions throughout Alberta, without having to leave their hometown.” As if to say that students didn’t have access without having to leave their hometown before.

Of course, Alberta’s contribution to the eCampus initiative is only a “one-time” contribution of approximately $900,000. So, now that it’s set up, the various colleges and technical institutes will get to learn a little bit of what Athabasca University is going through.. that is, that by reducing your total expenses, the amount the government gives you and the amount they allow you to charge are both reduced at the same time.

This in a time of a 1.9 billion (http://www.gov.ab.ca/home/index.cfm?Page=522) (yes, that’s with a “b”) dollar surplus, of which over 550 million will be going into the government slush fu.. I’m sorry, “sustainability” fund. Remember that one? That’s the fund that allows the government to sustain unrealistic budgets based on over-estimating the price of natural gas and oil.

Welcome to the idea of life long education being reserved for the Alberta Advantaged.

Getting back to the point, however, what’s stunning about this announcement is that there is absolutely no mention that high quality courses are already available for students to take across Alberta from the comfort of their own home – and yes, many of these courses are online.

But then again, why would they want to point that out? After all, people might look at Athabasca University and start asking the embarrassing questions of why this Alberta funding is “one-time”, and why more money wasn’t invested into an institution already handling this type of learning.

Your Money Studying Fat Kids

The Government of Canada has announced (http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/news/19353.shtml) funding of $138 million to go to Health Research projects in Ontario. From this funding, 329 research projects will go ahead over the next one to five years.

Three of those projects were chosen to be highlighted as exemplifying the Canadian Institute for Health Research’s broad range of research projects. These include such laudable projects as working to de-activate chemotherapy resistant proteins to allow better cancer treatments and research into stopping the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The third one chosen to be highlighted, however, is a research project on “studying factors that affect children’s appetite such as body composition, physical fitness, food variety and television viewing in order to address the growing problem of child obesity.”

Basically, it is looking at the question of why children eating so much and getting fat. This strikes me as one of those brain-dead studies to which the answer is obvious: because being kids they don’t know any better, and the parents let them.

Daytime talk shows have looked at this, bringing on pre-teen children who are astoundingly obese, and most of the time the problem is very simple. Parents who simply make no attempt to control their own children’s diets, and in fact often work to enable the kids to become fat.

So we don’t need a study for this, what we need is to get the parents of these kids in a room with Maury and a clue-stick.

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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