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North Island College to offer Free Upgrading

The BC government is eliminating tuition fees on Adult Basic Education
BLACK PRESS FILE PHOTO Premier John Horgan announces the elimination of tuition on Adult Basic Education and English Learning Programs.

Thanks to the provincial government North Island College will now be offering tuition free upgrading courses.

Premier John Horgan made the announcement on Aug. 8 that the BC government is eliminating tuition fees on Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English Language Learning programs, which applies to educational institutions throughout the province, as well as in the North Island.

“Effective September 1st there will no longer be tuition of adult basic education at North Island College,” said NIC Acting President Lisa Domae, adding “for people in the North Island that means they can access all levels of English and Math upgrading tuition free.”

Domae said students can register for those September courses now, knowing they will not have to pay tuition come fall.

Horgan’s announcement reverses action taken by the previous Liberal government in 2015 to impose tuition fees for ABE and ELL learners. Under that 2015 policy, Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning fees were set by each institution up to a maximum of $1,600 per semester of full-time studies, the equivalent of the average cost of tuition for an arts and science undergraduate program

“When tuition was implemented by the previous government enrollment in ABE dropped over thirty percent,” said Domae also noting she hopes the elimination of tuition will now inspire more people to continue their education.

This also means that NIC’s new land-based learning program Awi’nakola, which is a Kwak’wala word meaning ‘one with the land and sea’, will now be offered tuition free.

The program weaves together any level of English and math upgrading with a Kwak’wala course and time spent outside of a typical classroom setting.

“That program came out of talks about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” said Campus Co-ordinator Caitlin Hartnett. “Out of one of those discussions came the idea to create some upgrading that is a bit different than what we traditionally offered.”

The program combines a core math and English curriculum with a more holistic approach that is connected to the land and sea. Hartnett is teaching the English portion of the program but added all three teachers in the program will work closely together.

“Danita Schmidt who’s teaching math might be doing a lesson on mapping out on the land, or how to calculate the time it takes to travel in a canoe,” explained Hartnett, continuing “Sarah Child who’s teaching Kwak’wala might be using the language to talk about place names, and then I might be doing a writing assignment that asks the students to reflect on their time on the land and in the canoe.”

Hartnett and Schmidt will also be students in the Kwak’wala course. “We are honoring that we all have our different gifts and are all sharing different strengths, so in many ways, our students will become our teachers as well,” said Hartnett.

The program will kick off with a three-day camping and canoeing trip that will “incorporate Kwakwaka’wakw elders and knowledge holders to share stories and teachings.”

The Awi’nakola program will begin September 6 and run through December 15 and will take place three days a week.

Students can enroll now in both the Awi’naokola and traditional upgrading courses beginning in September.