The government already pays for mandatory schooling from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Shouldn’t they do the same for at least a bit of university education? Casey Meijer, candidate for the Halifax-Chebucto Green Party, thinks so.
“Honestly, I think the biggest issue is debt, and the cost of university,” says Meijer “There’s a secondary issue in that the quality of our universities are degrading, and class sizes are growing.”
Short-term, Meijer believes that Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) “Vote Education” campaign has easy targets: converting student loans into student grants, reducing tuition to 2013 levels, and capping tuition.
Grants have been criticized for being too expensive. The theory behind them makes sense; invest in youth and then they’ll stick around. If they stick around, they’ll help the economy grow.
“Attending a first year class at Dalhousie is actually no better than watching an online video about the same subject,” says Meijer. “Someone told me the other day they were in a small program at Dalhousie. That small program has class sizes of 70-80 students and that’s not acceptable, it’s not a way to learn.”
Meijer would like to redesign our public education system.
“It was designed at a time when graduating from high school was enough to make you an educated citizen and able to engage on an equal playing field in our society,” says Meijer. “That’s simply not the case anymore.”
It would look like Quebec-style CEGEP system. Nova Scotia’s public schools would give students the education required to succeed at a basic level. It would allow students to get university experience without committing to a semester or a year’s worth of tuition fees. It would expose students to trades, and would provide first and second year level courses taught in smaller classes.
CEGEP classes vary, but are usually between as little as five people for specialized programs and as large as 40 for general programs. Universities could concentrate on more specialized programs.
The Green party doesn’t whip votes, which means they don’t make their elected party members vote on party lines. Meijer would be able to vote in-line with what his constituents want even if it goes against what his party wants.
Like Martin Willison, Meijer was unwilling to say exactly what policies would look like because they don’t have exact numbers.