Alberta Investing in the Future – Forgetting the Now?
The Alberta government recently announced another 750 million dollars will be going into the “Access to the Future Fund” (Alberta Dept. of Advanced Education, 2005). This fund will be fully funded when it reaches a total of three billion dollars, and produce 135 million dollars annually to provide “seed money for innovations in the post-secondary system” (Ibid.).
Of course, what the government fails to mention is that while all that money is being socked away in an investment fund, Alberta post-secondary students still have to deal with tuition that is the second highest in Canada and higher than the national average according to Statistics Canada (2005). What they also fail to note is that the debt from previous generations has been paid off by this one, and now the government is asking us to pay off the debt of future generations. Does anybody know when we will be spending our money on ourselves? Perhaps to give us a leg-up so we have a chance of ending up in a better situation than our parents?
While I certainly am appreciative of the idea of more money being available for post-secondary education in the future, the coming crisis in professors is something that the government needs to start addressing now. The best way to address that shortage is, quite simply, to grow our own professors. The only way we’ll be able to do that in sufficient quantities for the future, however, is if our post-secondary institutions start receiving serious funding now. The funding is needed in order to lower tuition and encourage students (not just from Alberta, but from all over the world) to study at our schools and develop ties in our post-secondary education system.
Alberta Department of Advanced Education (2005, November 16). Investment for the Access to the Future Fund grows to $750 million. Retrieved from http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200511/190739A325678-F19D-90E6-2A18BB15EDF4D462.html
Statistics Canada (2005, September 1). University tuition fees, 2005/06. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/050901/d050901a.htm
International Education Week
From November 14 to 18, 2005, Alberta celebrated International Education Week (Alberta Dept. of Advanced Education, 2005). This was a week where the government provided recognition to the number international students our post-secondary system has enrolled and the benefits these students bring to the province.
Such an occurrence can only be a good thing for Athabasca University, as one of the tight-ropes the university has to walk is being funded provincially but teaching students that are not in Alberta and so do not pay Alberta taxes. However, when Athabasca University can take the government’s own words back to the province and say “International students make important economic, social and cultural contributions to Alberta. The presence of international students on campuses enhances Albertans’ understanding and appreciation of other cultures,” (Ibid.) it becomes much more difficult for the government to refuse funding for these international students, and therefore much more difficult to refuse funding to Athabasca University.
Alberta Department of Advanced Education (2005, November 16). Alberta celebrates International Education Week. Retrieved from http://advancededucation.gov.ab.ca/news/2005/November/nr-IntlEdWeek.asp
Lucky Students Getting Laptops
In New Brunswick, a pilot program is going on that gives junior high school students laptops to help them with their studies (New Brunswick Department of Education, 2005). The program is a project being conducted by researchers at the Université de Moncton and Mount Allison University. While still ongoing, teachers of these students are reporting that the students’ work has shown improvement since they received the devices capable of scouring the Internetto look for information. I’m not sure how this research finding is really a surprise to anybody.
The real thing that needs to be researched is how we can ensure that all students, including post-secondary students, have the access they need to adequate information resources and the ability to find appropriate information resources. Once we have that, we can then concentrate on how to apply the information in new ways rather than the current education system that often emphasizes memorization over intelligence.
New Brunswick Department of Education (2005, November 15). Almost 500 N.B. students are learning with laptops. Retrieved from http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/news/edu/2005e1553ed.htm
More of the hurry-up and wait game has just finished playing out in the House of Commons. The Conservatives have put-forward a motion of non-confidence, after the NDP put forward their motion of compromise on the timing of an election. The non-confidence motion doesn’t come up for a vote until the 28th of November, but if the Liberals have not agreed to the NDP compromise, it’s expected that all of the opposition parties will vote for the motion, causing the government to immediately cease activities and move us into an election campaign.
As I mentioned last-week, the Liberal party has indicated that it will not accept the NDP compromise, thus forcing the opposition parties to choose an all or nothing strategy. The Liberal party are unleashing a wide range of spending incentives to try to make toppling the government an expensive political move.
Personally, I was more charitable toward the Liberals before they started this series of initiatives, and I’m hoping many people agree with me. While I like the spending and taxation plans the Liberals are trying to put forward now, I find myself asking why these programs (that Canadians really need) only come forward with the threat of an election. Perhaps its time to send a message to all the political parties that this constant gamesmanship about who gets the seats is no longer acceptable. I’ll be closely examining alternative parties to the standard three (four in Quebec), in hopes that perhaps I can find something that appeals to me more.
With the new laws in place that ensure your vote translates to federal money for the party you vote for, I can’t think of a better time.