Recent History – 2004-2006
September 28, 2005
It’s not the easiest sell. Dave Owens, adult basic education instructor at Northern Lights College, knows that promoting education in an area where decent paying jobs are for the asking has its difficulties.
“In this type of atmosphere where lots of people are making $17 or $18 an hour without finishing high school, we are really trying to point out the advantages of getting your Grade 12 and what these particular programs can eventually lead to,” he said.
“It is a challenge,” he added. “It is hard for us to argue with a person that is making a pretty good living until they have more responsibility and expenses. Maybe working is the best thing for them until they find out what they want to do.”
Owens made the comments during an open house at the newly transformed Adult Basic Education building at Northern Lights College last week. He firmly believes that education will pay dividends in the long run.
“In terms of job security and advancement, education is always an asset,” he said.
Northern Lights College’s ABE program currently caters to more than 100 students who are looking to upgrade high school courses and eventually receive their Dogwood diploma. The new building gives the program space to facilitate a wide range of courses from Grade 12 English and Math to Introduction to Law, Computer Studies, Chemistry and Physics.
“We want to make the public aware of the facilities we have here and what options are open to them,” said Owens. “This whole set of programs allows them to branch in to all kinds of vocational programs. There are lots of people lacking in math or English or science and that is the focus of the upgrading program.”
The program has two full-time instructors and offers courses that run through the tradition school year as well as a more flexible format that is designed to accommodate students with part or full-time jobs.
“We have some courses on a face-to-face basis that are paced,” he said. “But, we also have courses that are continuous intake. They can come in here and do a bit a week if it fits their schedule. It’s a fairly wide variety of options for students to take.”
The courses are tuition-free although students are expected to pay for their texts. However, Owens said that there are grants available to help cover that cost.
John Turner, senior instructor for the ABE program, said that making sure the community at large realizes that the courses are available is a number one priority.
“What our goal is now is to achieve 100 per cent awareness in the community,” he said. “So when people need to make a choice they realize that this is one of their choices. They know the college is here, but sometimes people feel reluctant to come on the campus. But, they should know there is a lot here for the community. If they need to update some of their skills, we can do that for them.”