Concern is being raised about upcoming cuts to adult learning programs at Okanagan College in Revelstoke.
“It’s an invaluable program because for people who need to upgrade to access employment opportunities, it’s imperative,” said Jill Zacharias, Revelstoke’s social development coordinator.
The cuts are being made to the Adult Academic and Career Preparation program at the Revelstoke campus. The program offers courses for adults to obtain the pre-requisites needed for post-secondary programs, or complete their high-school diploma.
Allan Coyle, the director of public affairs for Okanagan College, said the programs hours were being cut to 576 from 924 due to a lack of demand for the courses here.
“The program’s demand is driven by the students that show up,” he said. “We’ve seen a drop in demand the past couple of years, so we’re responding in kind.”
According to Coyle, the number of students taking the courses dropped to 13 full-time equivalent in 2013-14, from 19 in 2011-12.
However, according to a backgrounder on the program from the college that Zacharias provided to the Times Review, the number of students that have taken at least one course has remained steady at about 50 for the past three years. In 2011-12, 50 students took 76 courses; in 2012-13, 53 students took 56 course; and in 2013-14, 49 students took 80 courses.
The numbers are down from 2009-10 and 2010-11, when 135 and 112 courses were taken respectively.
Additionally, according to the backgrounder, the full-time instructor who taught the classes in Revelstoke is being transferred to Vernon at the beginning of August.
“They’re cutting it back and transferring it to such a degree that it will be impossible to run it in Revelstoke,” said Zacharias.
Coyle said the future of the program in Revelstoke will be reviewed during the school year and its future will be determined when the 2015-16 budget is set. He said courses could be taken through distance education.
“We’re trying to find ways to respond to the demand,” he said. “We’ll be watching it carefully.”
Tracy Spannier, Revelstoke’s literacy co-ordinator, said she plans on putting together a meeting with community stakeholders and Okanagan College to see what the community can do to ensure the program continues.
“I do understand there’s some plan to have some support in the community but if it’s not enough, then we need to be voicing what we need for the community,” she said.
“If we don’t have enough service, it would be a terrible thing for learners to not have access to a level of service they need to have skill development. There’s going to be a lot of training programs coming forward and you really need the basic skills before you enter those training programs.”