Christy Clark:

Don't Close The Doors on Adult Education!


Adult Basic Education (ABE) is education for adults from basic literacy and numeracy levels up to high school completion. ABE is offered through school board adult education programs and in 25 public post-secondary institutions in BC. 

In 2007, the BC Liberal government of Gordon Campbell eliminated ABE tuition fees. [1].

“We are helping people upgrade their education so they can take advantage of our growing economy and enjoy rewarding careers,” said former Advanced Education Minister Murray Coell. “We’re acting on the Campus 2020 report by offering free tuition for adult basic education, whether students have graduated from high school or not. We’re also going beyond that by helping more adult learners pay for books, transportation and child care.”

On December 4, 2014, the provincial government announced a $15.9 million cut to adult basic education programming in BC and removed the tuition-free ABE mandate. As of January 1, 2015, public post-secondary institutions were allowed to charge up to $1,600 per term in tuition fees for full-time ABE courses [2].

On May 1, 2015, the provincial government stopped funding school districts for tuition-free upgrading courses for “graduated adults.”

Setting The Record Straight -- Grants Don't Cut It

The BC government claims that low-income adults can apply for a grant to cover the new tuition fees, but their definition of "low-income" is shutting out thousands. The Adult Upgrading Grant (AUG) is only available to those making $23,647 or less, so if you make $11.37 per hour or more, you are not low-income in the eyes of the BC government [3].

ABE helps those most in need qualify for higher education and employment

Who are ABE students?  
- 58% are women
- 20% are parents
- 18% are Aboriginal
- 79% have a high school diploma
- 77% are taking ABE to prepare for future studies; 10% just want to complete high school

More than half (56%) of ABE grads surveyed had gone on to further education, and of those not currently enrolled in additional studies at the time of the survey, 29% had taken other education since finishing ABE. Together these numbers mean that 70% of ABE students go on to further studies (these numbers are consistent across the 2011, 2012 and 2013 studies).

55% of ABE students supported themselves by working while studying; 35% relied on support from family and friends; 19% relied on personal savings to support themselves; only 11% relied on ABESAP (student aid for ABE students) for support [4].



[1] BC Government Media Release (September 7th, 2007): ALL ADULT BASIC EDUCATION TO BE TUITION-FREE IN B.C.

[2] BC Government Media Release (December 4th, 2014): Adult upgrading courses supported by grants for low-income learners.

[3] StudentAidBC: Adult Upgrading Grant Application Form

[4] BC Government Report: 2013 Developmental Student Outcomes Survey 

[5] BC Government Media Release (February 13th, 2015): Funding to support transition to new adult upgrading model.


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