Adult Education in Vancouver School Board – Frequently Asked Questions

Programs, Schools & Students

What is adult education? 

Adult education provides courses towards the graduation program (grades 10, 11 and 12) as well as 26 Literacy Foundations courses in English, math, science, social studies and information and communications technology. Courses are offered as self-paced, structured or in one of two youth programs. 

Are adult education courses now free? 

On August 8, the BC government announced that it was eliminating tuition fees on Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English Language Learning (ELL) programs as of September 1, 2017. This means that graduated adult learners will be able to access tuition-free academic upgrading courses in addition to foundations courses (already tuition free). The Ministry of Education has informed VSB that they expect implementation of this policy change will be gradual over the coming school year as the system adjusts to this change. VSB will follow all Ministry guidelines with regards to the provision of tuition-free courses. 

VSB recently closed some of its adult education centres. Will they now be re-opened? 

In June 2017, the Vancouver Board of Education approved the 2017-18 budget that included a decrease in hours at the Gathering Place Centre adult self-paced program, a closure of the Gathering Place’s youth program, and the closure of the Main Street Education Centre. Adult Education programs will continue to be offered at the South Hill location. 

We are pleased that the Ministry of Education has recognized the value of these programs that we continue to provide within the Vancouver School District. The financial situation for the VSB has not changed since passing its budget, so currently, those changes to our adult education centres will proceed as planned.  

If the courses are now free, why isn’t VSB reopening the Main Street centre? 

The Ministry of Education funds 50% of course costs on enrolment, but the remaining 50% is only funded if the student completes the course. Therefore it is critical to assess the rate of completion within these programs to protect against financial liabilities.  

Enrolment in adult education programs had decreased considerably over the past decade, with a fair portion of students being from outside Vancouver. To ensure VSB’s offerings are sustainable and not dependent upon subsidies from the K-12 system, VSB will conduct a comprehensive review of our adult education offerings this fall.  

This review will include consideration for the demands identified and the opportunities for adults to access programs in other jurisdictions, and will enable us to engage post-secondary institutions (such as VCC, Langara) in discussions to determine what their plans may be for the provision of programs to adults. Similarly, we will want to know what the plans will be for neighbouring school districts to offer adult education programs.   

Is adult education a priority for VSB? 

While all our program offerings are important, VSB’s core function is providing public kindergarten to Grade 12 education. As such, the district’s primary concern at this time is the implementation of the Memorandum of Agreement with the BC Teacher’s Federation on class size and composition in our schools, which significantly increases K-12 teaching positions for the school district. In preparation for school start-up next month, we are continuing our recruitment processes and have dedicated our staff to this as a top priority.  

Will this situation change after a new board is elected in the upcoming Vancouver by-election? 

A new board can revisit these issues if it chooses, however VSB’s financial situation has not changed since the budget was passed in June, so any revisions must fit within that budget or could be implemented in a future school year.