Lessons in Lifelong Learning

From early childhood through our school years growing up, as adults and through to our senior years, literacy opens doors to opportunity. Knowledge is power, and power comes with lifelong learning.

We are fortunate to live in a place where citizens are engaged and willing to learn and passionate in their support of our centres of learning and teaching. My time as a volunteer in our community, as a school trustee and then president of the BC School Trustees Association taught me that strong voices are needed to compel government to properly fund and support our education system.

It's been a passion my entire adult life. I got involved in politics because I wanted to make sure that every child gets the best start in life by making education accessible and affordable for all.

We know that education makes the difference between poverty and prosperity. Schools and libraries create new opportunities and possibilities for entire families. I believe it is a core value for British Columbians that everyone should have a clear path towards post-secondary education and training through our amazing system of community colleges and universities.

However, at a time when parents and young people are worried about opportunities to gain skills and training, the B.C. government has cut $14 million from higher education. In this year's budget, the government demanded that school boards make more cuts. This pay-more, get-less approach is robbing young people of opportunity and making life harder than ever.

The cuts have extended to Adult Basic Education, and the decisions being made by the government have already forced the Vancouver School Board to close two adult education centres and cancel literary outreach programs. Under new fee structures, upgrading courses and language courses now cost thousands of dollars that many people just cannot afford.

This just doesn't make sense. By making it harder for adults to upgrade their skills, the government is closing the door of opportunity for thousands of British Columbians and hurting the economy.

We cannot have the skilled labour force we need today and into the future if government keeps making it harder for people to get the training they need. We cannot have caring, active, engaged, creative citizens without education. That's why I will continue to speak up to see the funding for Adult Basic Education restored.

In Victoria-Beacon Hill, citizens use and support their centres of learning. That's why I am excited to hear that the Greater Victoria Public Library is considering opening a branch in James Bay. I think it is a great idea, and will certainly help support lifelong learning and literacy.

If you want to see it happen, I would encourage you to write to the mayor, the City of Victoria councillors, and the Greater Victoria Library Board to tell them why you believe a local branch in the neighbourhood is important. You can email the mayor and councillors through the city's website at www.victoria.ca.

I appreciate hearing your views on this topic and any others of interest to you and your family.