Volume 93, Issue 53

Thursday, December 2, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

A gamble not worth taking

Editorial cartoon

A gamble not worth taking

It's been described as making the APEC controversy look like a tea party.

The World Trade Organization talks are currently being held in Seattle, Washington and for fear of missing out on the good times, the Canadian Federation of Students has decided to put themselves on the guest list.

The CFS recently bussed approximately 400 students to Seattle in order to participate in peaceful protests against the WTO. Their main concern was hinged on the possibility that Canadian education could be placed precariously on the WTO negotiating table.

Although the Canadian Minister of International Trade, Pierre Pettigrew, has categorically denied negotiations involving education or health are set to take place, it does not necessarily mean the WTO isn't exploring some radical options for the future. Speculation says these options involve the growing possibility that education will become a tradable commodity.

The international appeal to making the education sector a function of market mechanisms is heavily outweighed by the inherent evils of what would essentially be the commercialization of education. The concept of commerce and its link to education are already apparent with constant "brain-drain" alerts. If Canada's educational resources were suddenly available for trade in a system where they could be marketed in exchange for other commodities, how could we as a nation be in a better situation to tend to our already obvious educational shortcomings?

Anytime a market spin is put on an issue, a moral aspect of the issue is undeniably subject to an about-face. Universities across the country are already having to appease concerns over the marketability of their degrees – imagine what could happen to the academic integrity of learning for learning's sake when the dollar sign becomes an even more prominent player.

While the upper echelon schools in North America might not be particularly hard-hit by such an agreement, it could potentially mean a devastating cut for lower tier institutions. By making our educational resources open to trade, we would be running the risk of further jeopardizing the quality of education for those who aren't attending those schools, by compromising their resources for the sake of our own economic gain.

While our educational system is arguably one of the best in the world, it is still far from perfect and certainly not stable nor effective enough for us to warrant the wanton export of both teachers and teaching resources.

Since there's no doubt that commercialization of education would compromise it's overall quality, it's our job to determine what's more important – the strength of our nation's education or the weight of its pocketbook?

To Contact The Editorial Department:

Copyright The Gazette 1999