CNA students concerned, frustrated with ABE program cuts

Students of the Adult Basic Education Program at College of the North Atlantic are fighting to have the program remain at their school.
Advanced Education and Skills Minister Joan Shea says the provincial government wants to get better value for the money it spends. (CBC)

Changes from this week's provincial budget are being felt at the College of the North Atlantic.

The school's operating budget has been reduced — and the Adult Basic Education program is being transitioned out.

The program is currently offered at 12 campuses across Newfoundland and Labrador. The ABE is a high school equivalency program designed for adults who did not complete high school.

But students of the program aren't letting go without a fight.

Level 3 ABE student Samantha King says she and her fellow students want to stay at CNA to complete their program. (CBC)

College staff and students received an email Wednesday morning, saying that due to a budgetary shortfall, programming and staffing decisions would have to be made.

The letter states that the delivery model of the ABE program is changing, and that students will be transferred to new service providers.

College officials added that details still need to be finalized.

The news came as a shock to many students.

Samantha King, a Level 3 ABE student, is just four credits away from graduating in June. King said she doesn't know where she will finish the program.

"We want to stay in our college," said King. "We want to continue our education. We made friends, we know our teachers. We just want to stay here."

Level 1 student Lianne Reardon said cost is a factor.

Level 1 ABE student Lianne Reardon says she still has 30 credits remaining to graduate from the program. (CBC)

"At Academy Canada, it's $400 more per semester than it is here at CNA," Reardon said. "And the Academy Canada program is not as fully accredited as [the] CNA program is."

Students aren't the only ones frustrated and concerned.

NAPE president Carol Furlong said CNA instructors don't know what will become of them.

"It appears that maybe 109 instructors may be impacted in some way, but I'm not sure if they're teaching full programs, if they're teaching partial ABE courses — we don't know," said Furlong.

NAPE president Carol Furlong is concerned and frustrated with the ABE program cuts. (CBC)

Joan Shea, the minister of advanced education and skills, said government wants to get better value for the money it spends.

"The data that we have is that our graduation rate for Adult Basic Education is about 31 per cent," said Shea. "What we do want to do is, as we go out and do proposals, we want it to be results-based. So we need to make sure that we monitor the people (who) are actually attending the program and that they're graduating from the program."

In the meantime, students have started a petition to try to keep their ABE program at the college.