By Mike Bernier
Minister of Education
This past year was a banner one for British Columbia’s students and education system. We’ve accomplished a lot and seen great successes. Above all, we’ve set ourselves up for an even better 2017.
We’ve invested in new schools, additions and seismic mitigations to make sure we have safe spaces to deliver our world-class education programs. We have almost $1 billion worth of capital and seismic projects underway right now, and we are aiming to build on that in 2017.
This year, we invested $5.1 billion into public education and introduced many new programs to help B.C. families. For example, we launched the $14-million Student Transportation Fund, which is eliminating bus fees for many parents, and we made the $1,200 B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant available to 40,000 more children by including those born in 2006.
Students, teachers, and our entire education system have also been hard at work in 2016, and it’s paying off. Our Grade 10 students ranked among the best in the world – earning the top spot for reading, second for science and sixth for math. Graduation rates are up to 83.6% across the board, and more of our students with special needs and Aboriginal learners are graduating than ever before.
All of this is the foundation we are building on with B.C.’s new curriculum, which is getting kids ready for our changing world. We’re halfway through our three-year implementation – and the coming year promises to see more students connected with this powerful approach to learning.
Designed in partnership with our teachers and education experts, the new curriculum is about making sure students learn the basics of reading, writing and math in a way that connects them to the collaboration, critical thinking and communications skills needed in university, college and the workforce.
We’ve also added coding to the new curriculum. It’s good old-fashioned problem solving, and it’s a skill our children need whether they want to grow up to be software developers, business owners, or firefighters. That’s because it teaches a systematic way to approach issues – a life-long skill.
Connecting kids with lifelong skills is the driving passion of everyone in the education system: teachers, school and district administrators, and Ministry of Education staff. Everyone deserves our thanks – for everything that’s been accomplished in 2016 and all the exciting things to come in 2017.