Education Act to set new standards: Lobby group wants national equality for students
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
A faint echo of change is growing strong beneath the efforts of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations which is attempting to create greater equality for students across Canada.
The National Education Act, being put together by CASA, hopes to provide provinces greater accessiblity and quality within post-secondary institutions.
Hoops Harrison, national director of CASA, said the policy is a long-term goal, encompassing a number of aspects including a national teacher accredation standard, standards for class size and greater ease with transfer of degrees and grades.
"We don't want students crowded in a classroom like clowns in a car," Harrison said.
He said present policies will act as a foundation for the CASA act, in addition to consultation with Canadian ministers of the education council and an October policy meeting in Halifax.
"We're setting a foundation by creating a pan-Canadian education standard agreement," Harrison said, adding it is in the best interest of everyone for all provinces to be equal with regard to the issues outlined in the proposed Act.
Harrison said he wants the government to take responsiblity for education, adding if Canada is going to be competitive in a global economy, everyone involved will have to coordinate their efforts.
But Brad Lavinge, national chair of the Canadian Federation of Students, said the National Education Act proposed by CASA is not a new idea.
A Post-secondary Education Act was introduced by CFS about five years ago, encompassing similar issues such as greater accessibility and mobility for students, comprehensiveness in education, transferability of credits and non-profit public administration of the instituions, he said.
"If CASA wants to undertake the exact same efforts as the Canadian Federation of Students, that's fine but I think they are a few years too late on the issue," Lavinge said.
The National Education Act proposed by CASA will be met with great indifference and will not hurt or help the cause either way, he added.
Aside from the fact many members of CASA were originally members of CFS, Harrison had no idea such a act existed and said their model is not based on previous recommendations, adding there is no exclusivity on the idea.
Sam Castiglione, VP-student issues for the University Students' Council, said students who want to come to Western should be able to do so with ease as the National Education Act would ensure.
"In an ideal world, the National Education Act would allow for greater ease with ability to transfer," he said.
The Act may also be beneficial for allowing greater funding capabilities because of concentrated administration functions and better allocation of funding from the federal government, Castiglione added.
"From the perspective that education is the province's responsiblity with the majority of dollars coming from the federal government, it is not an unreasonable expectation to be able to control funding."
CASA did not consult CFS in this matter and if there is a duplication, it only shows there is a consistency in the desire for national standards among students, Castiglione said.
ADULT OF THE CORN Ron Benner, a London artist paying tribute to corn near the McInhtosh gallery, took offense yesterday when a husky man called him a niblet.