Free textbooks not enough

It is clear that our current provincial government has no vision for post-secondary education

This letter is in response to the editorial “Placing more priority on higher education” on Oct. 24.

Free textbooks are great, and it is refreshing to see John Yap and the B.C. government embracing open educational resources (this is a first of its kind in Canada), but is it perhaps too little too late?

The post-secondary education system in this province, in particular our public colleges and vocational training, has suffered from a severe lack of vision for most of the time the B.C. Liberals have been in government.

If their agenda were truly families first, Christy Clark and John Yap would have a real plan in place to address the chronic underfunding of our post-secondary institutions, which is the root cause of affordability and access issues.  College operational budgets have been cut repeatedly over the past 10 years, with harsh mechanisms in place to reduce college boards’ ability to plan ahead and save surpluses for leaner years.

In my view, the move to open access to free textbooks is simply fluff without an overall strategy to address the persistent underfunding and affordability of our public institutions. Funding post-secondary education is overwhelmingly supported by British Columbians, and even ministry commissioned studies and reports. Increased funding for public institutions like Okanagan College also have great benefits to the local and provincial economies. It is a financially sound use of taxpayer dollars. Returns on public investment in post-secondary education far outweigh the costs, and grow even larger when you account for incidental social savings (like decreased burden on the justice and health systems).

It is clear that our current provincial government has no vision for post-secondary education, despite its direct relation to the economic and social future of this province.

I agree whole-heartedly that advanced education should be a major priority.

Bryan Bergen

 

Okanagan Falls