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William is an Assistant Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in the Department of Business Administration and Tourism and Hospitality Management. He is fascinated by research around how individuals construct and create their social realities, intrigued with the powers of creativity and innovation, and an avid proponent of outstanding service experiences. When not teaching, writing, or researching, he tries to spend time with his family and occasionally paint. He is currently completing his PhD in Management at Saint Mary’s University.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When the voices of tomorrow speak today.

 In 1989, during my first year of undergraduate education, I paid $1,100 for the year of school. Yup - for the whole year! Two semesters of school. Eight months. Ten courses.

Today, that cost is approximately $1,110. Per course. In 21 years, the price of post secondary education has gone up over 10 fold.

Metro News
I'm no expert, but it seems to me that this has been a rather large increase over the last two decades. Sure, everything has increased; the average wage has gone up, the cost of gas has jumped, even a can of Classic Coke (not new Coke - don't get me started on that) has increased. But none of these items have gone up 1000% in the past 20 years, have they? We don't put a ten dollar bill into the pop machine today and didn't pay workers a minimum wage of $0.96 in 1989.

So when I saw the students of Nova Scotia stand up and have their voices heard in a peaceful protest on February 2nd, I was nothing but proud. Here in Nova Scotia, our Premier has raised the cap on provincial tuition to 3%, up from the former increase of ... right - nothing. To compliment this increase, he has served our post secondary institutions with a 4% decrease in funding. Welcome to the second decade of the 21st century and a 'social' government.

If you're a fan of ice cream cones, this in analogous to getting less ice cream on top of a crappier cone. Plus a kick to the knee cap.

When we decide that budgets need to be tightened, why is it that we target those who are eating the least at the table first? Today, our students are saddled with personal debt. Parents, if they can, are having a tougher time supporting their kids to get an education. So, in debt they become, to the average tune of $28,000, with the greatest burden of debt falling to students in the Maritimes.

Nova Scotia is Canada's Education Province. We have 11 universities and 13 community college campuses. Students from our province can confidently remain in their home to earn an outstanding education; students from across Canada and around the globe flock to our schools. Instead of embracing the social values of an education for all, our most socialist government party has decided to turn capitalistic. This is something that frustrates me.

However, over two thousand students here in Halifax decided to take to the streets on Feb 2nd's Day of Action to have their voices heard. They marched in the middle of a snow storm strong enough to close the very schools they attend. They marched in the middle of the downtown streets in which their annual investment of tuition, books and recreational capital flows. They marched in the middle of the day, peacefully expressing their disgust at a tuition increase that serves political gains over provincial growth. They claimed their voice in a process that often moves around them without speaking with them.
My livelihood is made from teaching these young voices. I work with them everyday. And I am thrilled every time they take action, using their voices and intellect to stand up for their opinions and beliefs. They are the leaders of tomorrow. They are strong, smart and stellar, deserving the best that we have to offer. When they stand tall in one voice under one cause, all of those negative whispers of an apathetic generation are rightfully brushed aside.

Putting financial barriers in their path is not the way. They know it, we know it. Could someone tell our government? Better yet, we must encourage our non-apathetic youth to tell them in the next election. For the most powerful tool to bring in a government that supports funding education is through votes.

Politicians understand the marketplace. Show them that the demand is there and they will no doubt supply you with what you desire. They have the ultimate job in customer satisfaction and popularity. They know it and we know it.

From what I see, it's time to start shopping around. But that's just my two cents.


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