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Free Education for Canadians!

posted Feb 22, 2011, 7:20 PM by Esther Matharu
A recent article in the Maclean’s (November 22, 2010) quotes a poll by BMO that indicates that, “two thirds of Canadian parents say they cannot afford to send their children to university. Approximate cost of four-year university undergraduate course: $60,000. Average debt of university graduates: $26,680”.

This raises two obvious questions: is a university degree the best option for every parent, knowing that their children may end up doing jobs for which they did not need a degree just to pay the exorbitant fees, and, should children from poor families be deprived from attending university on the basis of un-affordability.

For example, how come Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago can offer free education and Canada cannot? One of the answers is because more and more of our universities are run like corporations where profit, not education, is what counts. People who claim that education in Canada is of a much higher standard are not being truthful. How about Norway, Sweden and Finland where an excellent education is free, and Germany and France where it is much cheaper than Canada?

In Ontario, we reduced secondary school by one year so mid-teens enter university where they have to PAY! It’s good for business but it is it good for Canadians?

Yet another disturbing factor is that universities have to lower the bar constantly because as corporate organizations they need more and more ‘clients’ to keep functioning at a profit. The end result is what we see today: debt-ridden graduates, many of them dropouts, who cannot find jobs that measure up to their expectations and abilities.

Meanwhile, the gap widens for skilled Canadian labour in entrepreneurial and artisan jobs, including environmental and agriculture, and, more worrisome, the result is a disenfranchised youth that does not bother to vote because they have been marginalized or simply used when election fever is on. They have the feeling that nothing changes and no one listens to them.

Perhaps it is time to take to the streets and refuse those fee hikes that ransom our young to jobs that do not satisfy. Maybe it is time to challenge the status quo and find out that, Oh my god, there is more to life than comfort! Maybe we will find out that the purpose of life is not just to incur debts simply because we have been told that to buy with money we don’t have, i.e. credit, is what makes the economy work for us, after which we will spend the rest of our life paying debts and thus become de facto beggars for jobs, token tax reliefs and old age benefits.

We can make a difference when we realize that what is needed is a political overhaul, a change of mindset, a redefinition of government, an awareness that nothing will change unless we work for electoral reforms. So bring on the spring and the election! It’s your future so become immersed in politics, vote for the rightness of something that gives hope. Don’t vote for second best, create the best!

When people don’t vote, the result can be extremists who sneak in and fill in the vacuum, such as a youth organization called 4myCanada. Such fundamentalist organizations gain influence over the government through its leaders. These are people who deny climate change, who don’t care about the environment but actually welcome destruction and chaos as proof of a coming New Order, who claim that they want to sacrifice gains in human rights and women’s and family’s liberty of choice on reductionist and crippling ideas of morality at the same time as, ironically, promoting more war, more guns and destruction.

Let us move away from this negative picture and move on to the real issues young people face today: meaningful employment, quality education, jobs, student debt and our national debt, not to mention environmental degradation. There is no use our politicians bickering about who gets to be the king of the castle when the way we are going globally, there is not going to be much of a castle left.

These are the battles to be fought, that the partisanship mindset avoids by dividing us so that we do not get together and work for the changes that matter.