The strategies were supported conditional on clarifications, improvements in wording and some modifications. The strategies which required clarification or modification included: the setting of tuition fees, particularly for foreign students; the Adult Learning Forum; degree granting status for colleges; the Access Fund; implementation of a new funding formula and consideration of changes to labour relations legislation to allow post-secondary institutions to respond quickly to economic change.
Participants had some difficulty in answering the question of whether the package of strategies proposed to address the goals would, if successfully undertaken, lead to their accomplishment. However, a general consensus emerged as captured in the comments on the specific strategies.
The written submissions carried many similar messages to those I heard in Edmonton and Calgary. It should be noted, however, that these messages reflected the viewpoint of the individual or respondent type while the messages brought forward from the Edmonton and Calgary meetings represented a measure of consensus resulting from a collaborative discussion of ideas.
In the written submissions there was general agreement that learners needed to take more responsibility for their education, however, there was no common viewpoint on the extent of that responsibility.
It was interesting that both students and post-secondary institutions felt that provision should be made to support part-time and continuing education in the adult learning system.
Faculty were concerned that the needs of the learner would drive the system and adversely affect and influence curriculum.
Business felt that it was important to have learners understand the true value of the cost of their education.
Respondents from all stakeholder groups said that improved transfer arrangements and accountability were extremely important. Cooperation and development of partnerships were cited as critical factors towards making improvements in these areas.
In terms of enabling Albertans to participate in a changing economy and work force, there seemed to be a polarization in the written responses. Some respondents such as provide education providers strongly felt that education and training should be focused on the needs of the economy while others strongly believed that education and training should be more general and emphasize the development of transferable skills in order to better serve the needs of society.
It was suggested that industry and business should be involved in programs providing job specific training and that institutions should focus on developing the skills of individuals such as critical thinking, creativity and logical analysis that assist them to become productive members of society in all aspects including the labour market.
Respondents said it was important to promote access so that localized and affordable educational opportunities could continue to be made available.
It was felt that a broader definition of educational opportunities was needed that would include life skills, non-credit programming, literacy and skills training in addition to credit programming and that one must not ignore or over-emphasize any one aspect of the system.
In closing, I feel that our collaboration to improve the adult learning system for future generations is one that works and in which I have been proud to participate as moderator. Through the sharing of views at the public consultation meetings stakeholders came away from these meetings with a greater understanding of issues from both listening and being listened to. I also learned a great deal from the valuable contributions of those who wrote in to the department and expressed their views.
It is my hope that you will each continue the dialogue and ensure that the adult learning system in Alberta continues to be equal to any in the world.
|Harry G. Shaefer F.C.A.|
|Chairman of the Board|
|Moderator: Round Two|
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