By Carole James
As students head back into classrooms this fall, I would like to share some of our government’s priorities for education and lifelong learning. It is clear our education system has been through some extremely challenging times, and I’m proud to be part of a government that is charting a new path forward.
We have a vision for a school system where all students can reach their full potential and get the quality education they deserve, regardless of their background or where they live. To do that, students need to have access to quality administrators, teachers and support staff. That’s why we’ve allocated $72 million to hire additional teachers – 3,700 of them province-wide – and help school districts with their recruitment and retention challenges.
We are investing to train more than 100 new specialist teachers in the highest-demand fields so that students can continue to thrive and benefit from quality teaching. These spaces will produce qualified special education, French language, secondary math and physics teachers, and help meet some of the highest demand for teachers.
Great educators have always been a key part of student success. Their role will be even more important as we focus on driving student achievement forward.
In order to reach their full potential, students need comfortable and safe spaces. That means schools that are seismically safe, well-maintained and operating properly.
We have a forward-looking plan to tackle the backlog of seismic projects in B.C., backed by the largest school capital investment in generations – $2 billion over three years. We’ve also increased funding to maintenance programs by more than $20 million over last year, helping schools ensure their water is safe to drink, their heating and cooling systems are working, and their fire alarms are up-to-date.
We are focused on improving student mental health. We are working with our partners to find ways to better support students who may be struggling with mental-health issues. Additionally, it’s a priority to ensure that schools are safe and welcoming for students and staff of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Investing in skills training means investing in the people that drive economic growth. By knocking down barriers to learning, we all benefit. We’ve expanded B.C.’s tuition waiver program and increased financial support for former youth in care while they attend post-secondary school or training programs.
We’re boosting computer sciences, information technology and engineering with an $11-million investment in our colleges, universities and vocational institutes. By removing the fees for Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning, we’re giving people opportunities to grow and succeed.
Young children entering the education system this month will graduate into a world vastly different from the one we know now. It’s vital that we instill in them an appetite for learning, a willingness to embrace technology and enthusiasm for communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills.
My colleague Rob Fleming, Minister of Education and MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, is working hard to empower students, educators and school communities to thrive.
Students have waited too long for an education system that works for them, and that’s what we’re working diligently to deliver.
Best wishes to everyone for a terrific school year ahead!
MLA, Victoria-Beacon Hill
084 Fort Street, Victoria, BC V8V 3K4
Phone: 250 952-4211