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OP-ED: Restoring Free Tuition fees. Why Education Is The Great Equalizer

By John Horgan

Premier of British Columbia,

VICTORIA – Education is the great ePqualizer. It opens the door to a good-paying job, and a secure future. We need to give help, hope and opportunity to people who want to get a basic education to learn the skills they need to join the workforce and build a better life for themselves and their families.

That journey starts with opening the doors to adult basic education and English language learning. These programs should be within reach for everyone, from new Canadians and recent immigrants, to students preparing for university and adult learners upgrading their skills for work.

The previous government put up barriers to a basic education when they introduced tuition fees for Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning in 2015. Fees were set by each institution, but could cost up to $1,600 per semester of full-time studies, which is the same as the average cost for an arts and science degree program.

Many people could not afford to pay these new tuition fees. As a result, enrolment in Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning programs dropped 35% from more than 10,000 students a year to just under 6,700 students a year.

We cannot afford to shut thousands of people out of opportunity. Families can’t afford it. And B.C.’s economy can’t afford it. Our long term economic growth depends on an educated and skilled workforce.

This is why our government is removing the roadblocks to education by eliminating tuition for adult basic education and English language learning starting September 1, 2017. This change will open the doors to tens of thousands of British Columbians to upgrade their education and skills each year.

By investing in education and opportunity for people, we are making a long-term investment in our economy and our future.

We will continue to make changes that give families relief from high costs and fees, and invest in better services that give people help and hope for a better life.

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