As September begins, this means back-to-school season for many in our province. As a longtime student, former professor, and parent, I know all too well the excitement and trepidation this season brings. We look forward to going back to school, knowing that students and teaching staff thrive in environments where they can work hard, live comfortably, and enjoy time to play.
To help students and school communities thrive, we’ve funded support for families struggling with high costs, created opportunities for students wanting to pursue early childhood education and programs that address the interests and needs of today’s learners, and invested in new educational facilities and residence buildings.
Through our government’s continued investments in the education system, the work we’re doing now will support current and future students of all ages. We know that having safe, accessible education is essential in every community.
While back-to-school is an exciting time, it’s also a costly one. Especially for families struggling with the cost of living, getting ready for school can be an extra burden. Through the newly announced Student and Family Affordability Fund, we’re investing to make sure school districts can expand meal programs, help students get the supplies they need, and ensure field trips and activities aren’t financially restrictive, so students can feel supported through financial need.
Both our youngest learners and our soon-to-be graduates will see the benefits of new dual-credit programs which will allow students in Grades 11 and 12 to earn credits towards careers in early childhood education. This includes SD61 students in our community through a partnership with Camosun College. By investing in the next generation of early childhood educators, we’re ensuring the next generation of young learners will get a great start to their educational journey.
With so many students choosing to pursue post-secondary education in Greater Victoria, we were thrilled to announce a new post-secondary facility coming to the West Shore.
This collaborative space will facilitate learning for students at Royal Roads University, the University of Victoria, Camosun College, the Justice Institute of BC, and SD 62. The location will help students learn closer to home, create opportunity for even more students to grow and prosper, and get ready for the jobs of tomorrow.
This month, the University of Victoria will open the first of two new residence buildings, as well as a new dining facility. This means more students will have reliable housing and accessible meals on campus.
The 398-bed residence opening this fall, combined with the 385-bed building opening in 2023, will create almost 800 residence spaces for students at UVic, part of the over 8,000 student beds we are building across the province. For students who have classes, extracurriculars, and jobs to juggle, this access to on-campus housing will be a game-changer.
Education is a key to achievement at all ages, and I know how much British Columbians value our public education system. This work being done will help us usher in a new school year with much to look forward to.
Murray Rankin is the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.