British Columbia Supplements School Meals and Activities to Offset Inflation
BC’s Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside announced that the province will invest over CAN $63 million in a supplemental “back to school” fund for school meals, school supplies and fees for field trips and other activities. It is intended to help offset the rise in inflation. Each of the 60 school districts can set its own funding priorities. An additional CAN$3.8 million (US$2.9 million) has been allocated for independent schools, which are publicly funded in the province. Carolyn Broady, president of the British Columbia School Trustees Association, said the fund “will assist families facing food insecurity and families who are unable to pay for school supplies.” Others suggested that shrinking school budgets over the past two decades are what has resulted in the tight budgets for school meals and activities. Jennifer Heighton of the Safe Schools Coalition B.C. said: “This is going to help, but it’s still a really stretched system.” See CBC Canada for more.
New Zealand Invests in Education and Employment Support for At-Risk Youth
In response to a rise in youth crime, New Zealand’s “Better Pathways” package will invest NZ$53 million (US$31.8 million) in community-led programs to support at-risk children under 14 to keep them out of the youth justice system. As part of the package, across-agency team made up of police and social workers who work with youth to try to keep them out of the justice system, will be expanded. Better Pathways also invests in re-engaging learners in education, providing bespoke support for youth at risk of long-term unemployment, and offering intensive mentorship and therapy. Read more about Better Pathways at New Zealand’s Ministry of Education.
To Ease Teacher Workload, Japan May Increase Support Staff in Schools
Japan’s education ministry is considering doubling funds for schools to hire support staff to handle non-teaching tasks and free up teachers’ time. The new staff—who would not be required to have teaching licenses—would answer phone calls, prepare student handouts, grade assignments, and disinfect classrooms to help prevent the spread of COVID. This would allow teachers to focus on lesson planning, developing teaching materials, and researching teaching methods. The ministry is also considering employing more “study guidance staff” to aid teachers in providing differentiated instruction based on student needs. Many teachers in Japan have complained of work overload, and the ministry is hoping to create an environment “in which teachers can fully focus on things that only teachers can do,” education minister Keiko Nagaoka said at a news conference this week. Read more at Japan Times.
Australia Announces Major Skills Training Package
The Australian government has allocated AUS$1.1 billion (US$750 million) to support an additional 180,000 tuition-free vocational education and training (VET) slots by 2023 through its Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes, Australia’s national VET provider. Funding for the slots will be jointly provided by federal, state, and territory governments. TAFE delivers job-focused training that leads to nationally recognized industry qualifications. The new skills training package was announced at the beginning of a national jobs summit which focused on raising worker pay and gender equality in the workplace in addition to providing workers with the skills they need to secure good jobs. In his opening speech, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, “In recognition of the urgent challenges facing our nation, we are taking action now.” Read more in The Sydney Morning Herald.