Loading articles...

Colleges wonder about future of ESL classes

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS1130) – BC colleges that provide ESL classes are wondering what the fate of those classes will be after April of 2015.

Ottawa is changing the way it provides funding for ESL instruction for adults. Instead of transferring the money to the provinces and earmarking the money for public post-secondary institutions, it is now adopting a request-for-proposals system to allow private institutions and community organizations to get the funding.

As a result, public colleges such as Douglas, Camousun, Vancouver Community College and Langara will be getting less funding. The province has committed to bridge the funding gap, but only until April of next year.

Tracy Ho with the Douglas Students’ Union says the kind of ESL instruction offered at the colleges isn’t provided by other ESL programs.

“At public institutions, we have very well-trained instructors who know what kinds of skills these students need. There are high academic standards and it’s meant to be academic prep,” she explains.

“If we don’t have that training, we are missing a crucial program and a crucial stepping stone for new Canadians who need to move beyond using English as an everyday language.”

The students union believes the loss of the funding and programming would devastate the communities Douglas serves and limit access to higher education.

It ultimately wants the province to commit to more permanent funding.