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B.C. minister's visit to China good for SD43

B.C. Education Minister George Abbott
B.C. Education Minister George Abbott's is visiting China.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

A visit by B.C.'s Education Minister George Abbot to China is good news for School District 43's international education program which has been in a competitive battle for students in recent years.

That's the word from assistant superintendent Patricia Gartland who heads up the lucrative program that draws 1,000 foreign students a year.

"I think the minister's visit to China will help to underline that B.C. values the building of a positive, friendly relationship with China and wishes to establish a solid foundation for collaboration and cooperation. The importance of equipping our students with international skills will be emphasized. This supports our International Education Program," stated Garland in an email.

But the BC Teachers' Federation is less impressed with the minister's visit abroad. In a press release this week, president Susan Lambert called his visit a "stunning contradiction."

"George Abbott is off in Shanghai praising our public education system with the goal of luring more fee paying foreign students to study here. Meanwhile, he's actively undermining the quality of education with the legislation (Bill 22) he brought in last Thursday..." Lambert stated in the press release.

Teachers are concerned that Bill 22 will constrain the mediation process and create larger and more complex classrooms.

Meanwhile, SD43 continues to lure foreign students to local schools to generate revenue for the operating budget and create better educated more globally-aware students.

Fees foreign students pay contribute $16 million to the district's bottom line, or 6.5% of the operating budget and schools get extra grants and more teachers with money from the $12,000 annual fees.

In recent years, SD43 has been turning China as a source of students, which explains Gartland's support for Abbott's visit.

The minister has announced the establishment of two more off-shore schools to teach the B.C. curriculum to Chinese students.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

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