Education minister apologizes to teen over research controversy
Anjali Vyas, 17, was paid $16,000 to produce a 14-page paper on teacher training in Finland
B.C.'s Education Minister Peter Fassbender has asked his staff to tighten up the way contracts are awarded following revelations Victoria high school student Anjali Vyas was paid $16,000 to produce a 14-page paper on teacher training in Finland.
But he's also apologized to the teen who got caught up in the controversy.
Vyas was offered the contract from the Ministry of Education after meeting superintendent of achievement Rick Davis. The then-17-year-old spent five months at Helsinki University studying how teacher training differs between the two countries
But news of the trip sparked widespread outrage this week after Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation criticized her report as an amateur effort and an insult to professional education researchers.
Education Minister Peter Fassbender says he had his deputy minister look into the trip, and insists nothing illegal or untoward took place, and issued an apology to the teen at the centre of the controversy.
“This was an unusual set of circumstances and the ministry’s intent was to support an existing research project that had been initiated by a talented and motivated young person. Teacher training is an important matter that does bear greater scrutiny and it is imperative that the ministry continue to seek out the perspectives of students and young people on how to improve our education system.
“On behalf of the Ministry of Education, I want to apologize to Ms. Vyas for the significant impact this matter has had on her and her family. Through no fault of her own, a very talented and dedicated young woman has been subjected to unfair allegations that her work was of no value or the manner in which she pursued it was inappropriate.”
However Fassbender said as a result of the controversy procurement procedures have now been tightened.
“However, in this case, I believe the ministry could have pursued these important objectives in a more cost effective manner. It is a reminder that we must remain prudent with tax dollars as we continue our efforts to improve the education system.
"Staff within the ministry will be going through a workshop again to remind all of us about contracting and how we ensure value for money is at the heart of every contract," said Fassbender.
"And we have a procedure where the deputy and the senior management will have to sign off on anything before any kind of arrangement is made with anyone."