The BC Teachers' Federation (BCTF) applauds the BC Supreme Court decision that upholds a section of the School Act prohibiting the charging of fees for materials that are required in courses leading to graduation.
"The decision underscores what the BCTF has maintained all along," says BCTF President Jinny Sims. "The provincial government must fully fund the public education system."
Sims says, "This is a signification ruling. It is the second time the courts have ruled against user fees in the public education system. Every student has the right to a publicly funded education, and their education experience should not be tied to their ability to pay. Clearly, the courts have found that education funding is a government responsibility."
Sims notes that education spending in BC has been steadily declining relative to the gross domestic product (GDP), falling to 2.4% of the GDP in 2005 from a high of 3.6% in 1991. "The BCTF calls on the provincial government to fully fund the province's education system. No child should be denied access to any educational opportunity because of the provincial government's failure to fund our public education system," says Sims.
The court has found fees may be charged for extracurricular materials and events not considered necessary by the teacher or the school. However, it prohibits school boards from charging for materials such as musical instruments and other equipment required for completion of any course.
She says this legal decision sends a message to the provincial government about learning and teaching conditions. "It's clear the provincial government has a fiscal responsibility to the students of British Columbia. We remain concerned about class size, help for students with special needs, and the lack of specialist teachers, and the government needs to ensure adequate funding to maintain a quality public education system."
The BCTF encourages the provincial government to use its sizeable budget surplus to properly fund public education.
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For more information, contact Yvonne Eamor, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).