HELSTON: Why education is one of the best investments our government can make - InfoNews

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HELSTON: Why education is one of the best investments our government can make

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.
February 19, 2016 - 7:38 AM

I hate seeing our schools get nickel and dimed, particularly because injecting cash into education is one of the best investments a government can make.

Think about it: public school is where our little people learn to become contributing members of society. It’s where they start developing the skills needed to become good employees down the road. Work ethic, punctuality, good behaviour and teamwork are all learned at school, and help set young people up to enter the workforce. All you have to do is look at the employment rate on Stats Canada to see high school dropouts have the hardest time securing jobs. People with less than a Grade 9 education represent just 18.8 per cent of employed people in Canada, compared to 58.3 per cent of people with their high school diploma. 

A working population is good economically for governments. It means more people paying taxes, and less of a drain on welfare programs. Education as antidote to unemployment and poverty is just the first reason governments should give more, not less, to the school system.

Education also fights crime. A common thread with many people convicted of crimes in Canada is low-literacy and incomplete high school education. Statistics show 65 out of 100 people entering correctional facilities hold less than a Grade 8 education. A big part of it is the link between crime and poverty, and we already know education fights poverty. So, now this superhero we call education is also saving governments money by keeping people out of jail and easing the financial burden of the justice system. 

Let’s not forget about health impacts. All those soccer practices, hiking trips and healthy eating lectures could amount to big savings for the health care system. Instilling good exercise and eating habits in young people will keep them healthier. We know those who are overweight or obese are at a greater risk for numerous diseases. We also know a healthy population results in lower health care costs, and most importantly, a better quality of life.

With all of these benefits, naturally we should aim to do whatever we can to promote student success in our public schools. Things we know help with student success: smaller class sizes, teaching aids, up-to-date instructional materials. These things also cost money. But instead of doling it out to school districts, the province is zipping up its coin purse.

Education funding from the B.C. government continues to disappear. Every year around budget time, school districts bemoan having to bring the axe down where there’s nothing left to cut, and every year, they manage to find something else — library time, resource teachers, even schools themselves. The province is their biggest source of funding, and their most unsupportive cheerleader. 

As school districts struggle to balance the books, maybe it’s time for the province to take another look at its own budget. It might think it’s saving dollars now, but the social and economic benefits of education over the long term really are priceless.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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