Adult Basic Education needed improvement

Published on May 3, 2013

I am writing in response to Dale Kirby’s letter concerning the provincial government’s decision to change the delivery model of the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Through Budget 2013: A Sound Plan, A Secure Future, we are ensuring all students have access to the most effective, efficient and affordable programming possible — ABE is no exception.

As we make these changes, we are also ensuring that programs at College of the North Atlantic are evolving to be more responsive to a growing demand for skilled labour across the province and can better focus on this need.

Newfoundland and Labrador spends over $22 million annually to deliver Adult Basic Education for approximately 2,000 adult learners.

In reviewing budget allocations to ABE providers, the Department of Advanced Education and Skills determined that cost savings can be achieved by moving the ABE program out of College of the North Atlantic.

The ABE curriculum itself is not changing and the eligibility requirements for funding that students receive will remain the same at private providers and non-profit organizations.

Asking why

In his letter, Mr. Kirby questions the provincial government’s rationale for improving the delivery of Adult Basic Education.

Here is the rationale: the average cost per student to deliver Adult Basic Education in this province is $6,552, more than double the Canadian average.

That cost — combined with the fact that in any given year less than half of all ABE students graduate — clearly shows changes to the program are necessary to strengthen accountability, improve results and ensure adult learners get the education and skills they need to realize their full potential.

Status quo must change

While the status quo may be acceptable to Mr. Kirby, it is not acceptable to this government.

ABE students attending either College of the North Atlantic, private training institutions or non-profit providers, come from a variety of backgrounds.

Government is confident that the provisions in place for ABE students under the new delivery model will continue to meet the diverse needs of all students and be as inclusive as possible.

All institutions and organizations that deliver the ABE program in Newfoundland and Labrador are required to meet minimum standards as defined by the Department of Advanced Education and Skills.

These standards will continue to apply.

With a looming skilled-worker shortage and the need for an educated workforce at an all-time high, it is vital that our government make improvements and investments that support education and career opportunities for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

This includes focusing on our public college system to better meet labour market demands and improving the delivery of Adult Basic Education for learners to help them secure a prosperous future.

Guided by the principle that education is one of the primary paths leading to employment, this government will continue to make the delivery of quality education that is accessible and affordable a high priority.

Joan Shea is the minister of

Advanced Education and Skills.