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Alberta Pays the Privileged Student

The Learning Ministry recently announced (http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200406/16576.html) the recipients of the Grant MacEwan United World College Scholarships. These scholarships have a value of approximately $28,000 for each of the eight recipients.

What is interesting about these awards is that nearly half of the recipients are from the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School located just outside Calgary. I was at first surprised that such a high percentage of recipients came from a single school when supposedly this award applies all across Alberta. A little more investigation shows that this school serves only the children of the wealthy families in Alberta, with tuition at the high-school level costing over $12,000 per year (http://www.sts.ab.ca/admissions_tuition.asp).

So while these Strathcona-Tweedsmuir students each receive over $28,000 of the taxpayers money to pay for two years tuition and living expenses at a United World College, the Alexander Rutherford Scholarships, which go to public school students with outstanding marks, still only total some $2,500 each. Not enough to pay for a single year’s tuition of post-secondary.

How this works to aid the Learning Ministry in its goal (http://www.learning.gov.ab.ca/college/) to “ensure all Albertans have access to high quality learning opportunities,” I don’t exactly know. It seems to me that if a family can afford over $12,000 a year to put their child through high-school, that child already has access to high quality learning opportunities. Giving them yet more money doesn’t make sense.

BC Blowing Big Bucks Building Buildings

The Province of British Columbia is continuing (http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/nrm_news_releases/2004MAE0030-000462.htm) its course of putting extraordinary sums into creating buildings for education rather than getting down to the nitty-gritty of simply funding education and training.

The latest expenditure is in creating about 1000 seats at the College of New Caldonia and University of Northern British Columbia. This spending comes from the 105 million that BC has budgeted to improve access to post-secondary education across the province. As a cost comparison, Athabasca University’s figures from two years ago are almost half that amount, and AU is serving over 30,000 students, more than the 25,000 additional spaces that British Columbia hopes to create by 2010.

The MLA for Prince George North, Pat Bell, said in response to this announcement “As northerners, we know the value that comes from training people at home.” Unfortunately, he was not extolling the values of distance education, but rather just propping up the party line of more seats = more access. It seems that politicians in British Columbia are still unaware of the benefits of distance education, because they certainly seem to want to spend a lot of money on new buildings.

If you happen to be an AU student in Pat Bell’s riding, why not give his office a call to tell him you agree with him. After all there is great value, both in the learning sense and economically, in training people at home. Too bad his government doesn’t seem to actually understand that.

Statistics Canada Proves What We Already Knew

Statistics Canada has recently released a joint study (http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/040602/d040602a.htm) between the United States and Canada on the health status of citizens in the two countries. The results are hardly shocking but it’s nice to have some confirmation of what we already knew.

For starters, poor Americans tend to rate their over-all health lower than Canadians, while wealthy Americans rate their over-all health as higher. Americans were more likely to have unmet health-care needs, especially at the lower end of the income scale, and cited cost as the primary reason. Canadians cited wait times as the primary reason for our unmet healthcare needs.

Americans tend to be fatter than Canadians as well, with American women showing a significant increase in the numbers that are obese as compared to Canadians. On the flip side, Canadians are slightly more likely to be smokers than Americans.

Given the options, I’m glad I’m Canadian.

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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