VESTA, May 8, 2014– On Friday, May 2, 2014, the Vancouver School Board issued layoff notices to 67 employees working in Adult Education. These layoffs affect dedicated employees hired as far back as July 1998. This is the second year of layoffs in a row affecting Adult Educators in Vancouver. These layoffs are the direct result of detrimental changes in Adult Education funding policy initiated by the provincial government. The BC government established an “Education Guarantee” in 2008 that allowed graduated adult learners to access a wide range of courses leading to the completion of education programs as part of career transitions. In the spring of 2012, the BC Government continued their pattern of reducing funding to public education by restricting courses available to adults under the “Education Guarantee”. The definition of a graduated adult was altered which had the effect of further reducing the number of students eligible to study in adult education. According to Chris Murphy, President of the Vancouver Adult Educators’ sublocal, “The net consequence of these two measures created a manufactured decline in student enrolment. This has devastated our system and reduced accessibility to adult education programs.”
Additionally, the increasing numbers of school-aged students in Vancouver’s downtown core without the provincial government authorizing the construction of needed schools has resulted in the Vancouver School Board’s decision to close the Roberts’ Adult Education Centre and to reallocate the classroom space to elementary students. Second, the Board relocated and downsized the Main St. Adult Education Centre to Gladstone Secondary. In combination, this will result in fewer classes available, and a reduced ability for adult learners to attend easily accessible schools.
According to Gerry Kent, President of VESTA, “The Vancouver School Board was aware, in February 2013, of the need for more space downtown to accommodate Roberts Education Centre, but failed to plan for this eventuality. Now many adult learners will be left with reduced options for attaining their educational goals.”