The recent student protests in Montreal about the increase in tuition fees leave me with mixed feelings. What about you?
On the one hand I agree with a lot of the concepts of the free world charter and the Zeitgeist movement, I also am realistic in my expectations. Our monetary system and our government and societies are not set up to support this as yet. It is very difficult to change a pendulum when it has been gaining momentum for so long. I would love to see all people of the world no matter what their age get a free education.
Maybe Quebec is not the place for these demonstrations. Why you might ask, do I say this? Well they pay the lowest tuition in Canada sometimes half as much as other provinces. You might think Canada pays more than other countries but you would be wrong again. Our fees are lower than most including the U.S. Canadian parents can pay into a government tax-free fund for an education savings account so that their children’s education is paid for and many do this. Did you know that Canada gives student loans, grants and a grace period after graduation before you need to start paying it back? There are a lot of government assistance programs if you are having difficulty with your payments. A lot of students declare bankruptcy to get out of repayment. Are you starting to scratch your head now? Please note that foreign students pay more.
We waste so much money on schools that are closed evenings and weekends and all summer. Students support our tenure system and increasing wages for teachers but were does the money come from. Baby boomers are taxed heavily but they are going into retirement years.
I was told by a young relative once that her friends all take the easiest road they can in order to get a fun degree. They don’t think ahead to see if there is any work for that profession. They find out later that their degree is pretty worthless in the current job market and rather than work for minimum wage they head back to school. It is partly the fault of our generation for bringing kids up to feel that they are entitled. Will we pay dearly for it or will it create a better world?
Rather than demonstrating about a fee hike maybe young people could put their heads together and try to help us come up with a solution. I also understand that no one wants to start out their adult life with debt. I believe costs could be cut considerably if delivered online. There are places on the internet to obtain a free education right now and many universities have degree programs online (most are not free at this time that I know of). It could be delivered world wide at a fraction of the cost and some day with all the money saved it could be free.
What steps can we take as baby boomers to change the world education system for the better? Come on we said we wanted to change the world remember? We have changed many things throughout our lives. We still can…can’t we?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Encourage your children, grandchildren and other family members to get an online education.
2. Take a course on line yourself. Learning new things is exercise for the brain. Not ready to go back for a degree it’s also a wonderful way to learn a new language, to play an instrument, take a photography course or art appreciation or trade your skills.
3. Write to your universities and MP, explaining that you want to see schools open 24/7 and more online degree programs. (This is a democracy isn’t it?)
4. Talk to teachers to show them how they could use my favorite the khan academy along with their current curriculum.
You may find these links interesting or amusing.
- Mind the Gap: Quebec’s Post-Secondary Education Woes (parallel49education.com)
- Montreal police use Bill 78 powers to quell protest (ctv.ca)