Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Harper's Austerity Axe Set to Fall
students launch campaign to save ESL funding for BC
Released by Cindy Oliver, President FPSE
Saeideh Ghassarifar, English Language Training (ELT) programs are a very
real part of her education plan. Ms. Ghassarifar is from Iran. She has three
degrees including a doctorate in health care education.
Sheís currently enrolled in English 099 at Vancouver Community College as
part of her longer term plan not just to improve her English language
proficiency, but also to ensure that her foreign medical credential is fully
recognized in Canada and she can finally become a practicing physician.
Saeidehís situation is by no means unique. Thousands of students are
enrolled in a wide range of ELT programs at many of BCís public
post-secondary institutions. All of them share a story similar to her, a
story in which these students hope to improve their language skills as they
work to fully participate in their new country.
Unfortunately, the Harper government is more focused on spreading its
austerity rhetoric than on continuing to provide support and funding to
ensure that students like Saeideh succeed. If Mr. Harper shared their
concern, he wouldnít be proposing to cut $20 million in funding for English
language programs. That funding has been part of a long-standing
federal-provincial agreement, but itís an agreement that Mr. Harper and his
government want to re-write. If he has his way, our institutions, and the
thousands of ESL students that we teach, will be on the losing end.
Thatís why FPSE has joined forces with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)
here in BC to pressure the federal government to re-think its plans to cut
ESL funding. Itís a campaign in which we are supporting the BC government in
their efforts to keep the federal funding in place. We know that Mr. Harper
is renowned for playing hardball when it comes to funding services. Whatís
critical at this point is ensuring that the BC government doesnít back down
from its stated position of keeping the federal ESL funding in place.
Making that case to Premier Clark and her key Ministers will be a major
priority for our campaign as well. FPSE and CFS are prepared to work with
the provincial government to maintain the support of ESL training and, if
necessary, work with to find ways to ensure that ESL programs currently
delivered in our public institutions remain accessible and affordable to the
thousands of students who need those programs to succeed. In the coming
weeks, as our campaign takes shape, we will be working with allies in the
broader labour movement to ensure that ESL programs remain a vital part of
all our public post-secondary institutions.
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