September 04, 2014 - 2:49 PM
VERNON - While B.C. students remain cut off from school during the teacher strike, some students from abroad are accessing educational resources through international programs in school districts.
Vernon school district is one of the provincial leaders in attracting 200 international students this year. Supt. Joe Rogers says they are participating in field trips and other activities to ensure they receive something for the $12,600 tuition they pay. A contingency plan shows the trips and activities scheduled over the next two weeks, including visits to the Kamloops Wildlife Centre and various camps. While the outings provide an atmosphere for experiential learning, Rogers says the students won't earn any course credits.
“It’s more of a welcome to Canada.... They’re getting an orientation to the Okanagan and yes, a cultural education. They’re also learning English language skills on the field trips,” Rogers says.
School buses are being used to transport the kids to the activities, but Rogers says pickup locations have been arranged to ensure no drivers are put in the position of crossing picket lines.
The district’s principal of international programs and the coordinator are organizing the trips, and principals and vice-principals are supervising the excursions.
Rogers points out the money for the trips comes from the students’ tuition, not the district’s funds.
“We’re only using the amount per week that would be used normally for instructional purposes,” he says. “We’re not spending any money we don’t have or that we need for teaching later.”
The Kamloops-Thompson School District is following the same type of system for the 80 international students currently in Kamloops. Supt. Karl de Bruijn says they are currently working on cultural-based activities and language support off campus.
"They're actively engaged right now, our concern is we don't want it to go on too long," de Bruijn says. "It's a good interim measure, but they're also missing out on the academic programming."
School districts benefit from hosting international students because they add cash to school budgets. Their tuitions are considerably higher than the approximately $6,900 the B.C. government pays per local student. Communities like Kamloops are working towards expanding their international student programs to the size of Vernon's.
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— This story was updated at 3:01 p.m., Sept. 4, 2014 to include comments from the Kamloops-Thompson School District.
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