BC strikes disrupt international programmes

12, August, 2014

Teacher strikes in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) have caused disruption to secondary school international summer programmes and could delay the start of the forthcoming academic year.

Image credit: 6-0275 : Destination British Columbia

The strikes by the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) relate to a pay dispute with the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).

Commenting on the impact on services, BC Education Minister, Peter Fassbender said in a statement provided to Study Travel Magazine, “The last few months have been challenging, and yes, the labour dispute with teachers has created some disruption in our system. Some school districts chose not to offer summer school courses, and if job action continues into the fall there is concern this will impact or delay international students choosing British Columbia as a destination next school year.”

Minister Fassbender added he hoped to reach a settlement before the start of the academic year. “We are fully aware of these concerns and the possible impacts prolonged job action could create for students and their families here at home and abroad. That is why we are working hard to reach a negotiated agreement before September. That is our goal, and I remain optimistic that if both parties are willing to come to the table with some creative ideas, we will reach that settlement and doors to our schools will be open on September 2.”

One regional school district, Comox Valley, said in a letter to parents and guardians dated July 24 and posted on its website, that it had been forced to cancel international summer school programmes.

“At the end of June we were informed by the Comox District Teachers’ Association (CDTA) that they had no intention to disrupt Navigate (NIDES) or the International Student Summer Program by putting up a picket line over the summer in either location…However, we have now been informed by the CDTA that effective Monday, July 28, 2014, both of these programmes will be picketed and, as such, teachers in these programs will be withdrawing their services,” the letter said. It continued that contingency plans were being drawn up and would be communicated to all involved in the administration of the programmes.

Fassbender said that he was proud of British Columbia’s “world-class” education system and that BC continues to be a leading jurisdiction in the education community with consistent high performance in international assessments, “and this is in no small part to the tremendous educators, administrators and programmes we have in each of our 60 school districts”, he said. “We have earned our very good reputation around the world by proving to be a reliable, secure and diverse destination for international students, and we are working diligently to ensure this continues in the years to come.”

Commenting on the value of international students to BC’s K12 sector, Fassbender added, “Each year thousands of students come to our shores to study, contributing to our local economies and sharing their unique cultures with many of our diverse communities. Last school year alone, we received more than 14,000 international students to our K-12 schools.”

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