For those that are wondering what my opinion is on the whole issue of Premier Klein’s essay on the internet, I’ll simply say that Klein’s demonstrated academic rigour doesn’t really surprise me. I wish the man had a little more political acumen than to submit such an obvious target piece to the legislature, but perhaps I’m not giving him enough credit.
Has anybody thought about what didn’t get looked at while the media was busy discussing proper citation use?
One of those things was the close http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200405/16443.html of the 2004 sitting of the legislature. A key fact highlighted by that closure was the passage of the Alberta Centennial Education Savings Plan Act. This is the act that provides $500 for every child born in Alberta starting in 2005, with the catch that their parents have to have a registered education savings plan for their child.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, this is just a case of giving money to those that have money, not of giving money to those that need. But I have no doubt the government is proud of this one. Not only does it let them say they’re trying to support Alberta’s children, education, and responsible parenting all in one blow. When the program gets too expensive, they can turn around and cut it under the justification of it not providing the funds to those who need it the most. Win when they put it in, win when they take it out.
I can only hope the rest of Alberta will spot this little sleight-of-hand when it happens.
Bursaries with a Purpose
However, there is something that went through the legislature that I actually do agree with. The Provincial Government of Alberta has also expanded a bursary program http://www.gov.ab.ca/home/index.cfm?Page=813 that used to be just for medical students to encompass pharmacy students as well. This bursary is a targeted one, in that students accepting the money agree to work in the Alberta North for however many years worth of funding they received from the bursary.
These type of programs are the real win-win situations for the population. People get bursaries making their education affordable and do-able, but the strings attached make sure that the citizens of Alberta get something back for giving the money. Plus, it can also work to expand the horizons of those taking the bursaries. After all, how many people would even think about going up north after getting their degree? These days, it seems most recent graduates head south instead.
Short of lowered tuition in general, it’s targeted bursaries like these that I tend to think are the best option for everybody involved.
Manitoba does Life Long Learning
The Province of Manitoba is doing some things right when it comes to encouraging education. Part of this comes from the announcement http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/press/top/2004/05/2004-05-10-01.html that they will be giving 13.7 million in funding to various adult learning centres across the province.
These learning centres teach the basic requirements that prepare adults for post-secondary education or for specific job opportunities. Manitoba is not only maintaining funding for these centres, but will also be providing funding for a technology refresh.
While none of this sounds that unusual, the trick is that the centres are tuition-free.
This addresses a common gap in our school systems – while public education up to high-school completion is generally free for the young, many provinces require that adults attempting to finish up their high-school pay for the courses required themselves. If there was ever a disincentive to further education, this would be it. Especially when you consider those most in need of this type of upgrading are probably those who are the least able to afford it.
What most impresses me, however, is the quote in the announcement linked above from Manitoba’s Advanced Education and Training Minister, Diane Gifford. ‘”Many adult learners have told us their renewed love of learning changed their lives and led them to share their experiences with their children, other family members and friends,” McGifford said. “Each success story means stronger communities and contributes to Manitoba’s continued economic growth.”‘
This sounds like a person who actually gets it.
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.