British Columbia: The Land of Forgiveness
The provincial government of British Columbia is expanding (http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/nrm_news_releases/2004MAE0060-001036.htm) their loan forgiveness program. Under this program, students in certain courses of study can have their loans eliminated by agreeing to work in locations that have a high need for those types of professionals. The program used to apply only to graduates from accredited schools in nursing (including licensed practical nursing), and medical, midwifery and pharmacy schools who began their programs on or after August 1, 2000.
The newly expanded program will also cover speech language pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. These types of forgiveness programs are excellent for the province, and certainly don’t hurt the students. Unfortunately, such programs are left to the discretion of the provinces and never reduce the amount owing on student loans provided by the federal government.
This is really too bad, because if this works at a provincial level it stands to reason that it work even better on a national level. Maybe it’s time for the government to stop thinking of equalization as the redistribution of the country’s wealth, and instead start thinking about the benefits of redistributing our skilled people.
Canadian Whiz Kids
Last year the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released its report on the mathematic and science skills of children aged 15 across the globe. Recently Statistics Canada released (http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/041207/d041207a.htm) its examination of the data. The result is basically that Canada is in the top ten in all aspects of math and science for our kids, and generally sits around the top four or five.
Similarly, in reading, problem solving, and science Canada was in the top four or five countries in the world, so that’s certainly something to be proud of. Alberta is naturally crowing because it outperformed the rest of Canada across the board in mathematics and generally in reading, problem solving, and science as well. Hopefully other provinces will take this as a testament as much to our teachers as to any initiatives the government has put forward.
Interestingly, the report showed that even in 15-year-olds, there is a noticeable difference in ability correlated to the socio-economic status of the household that the child grows up in. When you consider that learning is a cumulative process, it helps explain why people in the lower socio-economic classes are less likely to pursue higher education. For this reason we should be pressuring our government to try even harder to ensure that those in the lower socio-economic classes have the opportunity to become educated if they wish.
It seems that the best way to break the poverty cycle is to provide people with a good post-secondary education so that they can find their own way out. After all, we’ve all heard that if you don’t have an education, you can’t get a job. The key to eliminating poverty may simply lie in breaking the cycle of not enough early education leading to not enough higher education.
National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women
December 6, 1989 is when 14 people were murdered (http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news.asp?id=352) at l’Ecole Polytechnique d’Montreal because they were women. If you didn’t remember this horrific event on the 6th, you may want to take a moment and think about what it takes to make a person commit such a crime. Then perhaps think how we as individuals may be able to change just a little bit so that it’s less likely to happen again.