Speak Up for ESL!

CCSS Cries Foul on Privatization of ESL training

Student Leaders at Camosun reacted strongly to the announcement that neither level of government will continue funding of the English as a Second Language (ESL) program for Canadian students at Camosun College.  “This funding slash targets an already marginalized group who deserve quality ESL training that equips them to go on to postsecondary education or to enter the workforce,” said CCSS External Executive Megan Marshall. “ESL is important, as a majority of our domestic ESL students go right into other college programming. It’s also crucial for new Canadians and immigrants as it’s a way to get them comfortable in a college setting.”

The chorus of opposition to the change was joined by Faculty and students from across the province as well. “For a province that celebrates its diversity, the loss of $20 million in funding for English as a Second Language (ESL) programs is not only wrong-headed, it’s going to hurt the thousands of new Canadians who rely on ESL programs to help them succeed.,” said Cindy Oliver, President  of the Federation of Post- Secondary Educators (FPSE), a provincial organization representing over 10,000 unionized faculty and staff at BC’s post-secondary institutions.

Oliver made the comments at a press briefing where she and representatives from the Vancouver Community College Faculty Association (VCCFA) and the Canadian Federation of Students-BC (CFS-BC) announced plans to launch a provincial campaign to save ESL programs at BC’s post-secondary institutions. “The federal government’s funding of ESL is critical to students in every campus in our province,” said Katie Marocchi, CFS-BC Chairperson. “We are joining forces with faculty on this issue because the loss of that funding will be a major setback for BC students and the province as a whole,” Marocchi added.

“Faculty and administrators here at VCC are working hard to ensure that the proposed cuts in federal funding do not undermine impact VCC’s long history as one of the largest and most successful providers of ESL programs in Western Canada,” said Karen Shortt, President of VCCFA. “We are confident this campaign will get the public on the same page as our members and our students,” Shortt noted. “ESL programs are critical to the success that students like me are looking for,” said Saeideh Ghassarifar, a medical doctor who is enrolled at VCC after immigrating to Canada from Iran. Her language training is part of her efforts to have her credential recognized in Canada. “The loss of programs like the one I’m enrolled in will completely derail plans that many of my fellow students have for upgrading their skills. “I’m glad that faculty and students from all over BC are speaking out to protect this important service.” Ghassarifar stressed.

For information,

Rachael Grant
CCSS External Executive

Jenelle Davies
CFS‐BC Chairperson

Phillip Legg
Federation of Post-Secondary Educators