Is education a right or privilege? - U2 Feedback

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Old 05-22-2012, 04:29 PM   #1
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Is education a right or privilege?

By now, some of you may be aware of the student protests going on in Quebec, who are against a $1,778 tuition hike (over 5 years) imposed by the provincial government.

Roughly 1/3 of all post-secondary students have been on a 15-week strike from class and have been mounting almost daily protests, some of which have turned violent.

There's a massive protest going on as I type this, to mark the 100th day of the strike, with some estimates pegging the turnout at 200,000 people or more.

I'm sort of torn on the issue. I think if I would have been in my 20s, I would have been out there with them, but I can see both sides.

One of my concerns is that if education is free, how would you be able to attract top talent to universities? Shouldn't people have access to the best education possible?

Anyway, for the uninitiated, here's a timeline of the current situation.

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Anatomy of a conflict after 100 days of student protests

By PEGGY CURRAN, THE GAZETTEMay 22, 2012






Tuition hike opponents use a provincial flag as a placard to denounce the Quebec Liberal Party during a protest march through Montreal.

Photograph by: Tijana Martin, THE GAZETTE




MONTREAL – A timeline of the Quebec student strike against tuition hikes, which marks its 100th day Tuesday with a day- time rally starting at 2 p.m. at Quartier des Spectacles.

May 2003:
University administrators call for Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal government to lift the freeze on tuition fees. “God won’t pay. Someone will have to take the bill,” said Jean-Marie Toulouse, principal of École des Hautes études commerciales Montréal. Charest says his government will maintain the freeze for duration of his first mandate. At $1,862, Quebec’s average yearly undergraduate tuition is less than half the Canadian average of $4,025.

February 2004:
The Quebec National Assembly launches hearings into the quality, accessibility and funding of universities. Students vow to man the barricades against increases in tuition and other fees. Universities cite studies showing Quebec institutions are underfunded by $375 million a year.

November 2004:
University and CEGEP students from across province take to streets to protest a government plan to convert $103 million from bursaries to loans.

April 2005:
After months of protests and winter-long strikes by more than 100,000 students, Education Minister Jean-Marc Fournier reinstates the $103 million in bursary money.

November 2007:
About 2,000 of 58,000 university and CEGEP students on strike against a $100 per year hike in tuition fees take to the streets of Montreal. The event is part of a three-day strike marked by hundreds of arrests on charges of vandalism and public mischief.

February 2010:
Former Parti Québécois premier Lucien Bouchard joins former Liberal and PQ finance ministers, business leaders and retired rectors urging Charest government to end the tuition freeze. They suggest universities be allowed to raise fees to $3,000 to $8,000.

December 2010:
University principals and rectors urge a $1,500 hike in tuition fees over five years in the name of “intergenerational equity.” They cite a study saying it would take $1,500 just to cover inflation and bring fees in line with the $545 Quebec students paid in 1969.

March 2011:
Quebec announces plan to raise university tuition by $325 a year over five years, beginning in September 2012. Over that period, rates will climb by 80 per cent, from $2,168 to $3,793. Protesters – including three senior executives of the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante – occupy Finance Minister Raymond Bachand’s office.

July 2011:
CLASSE spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois accuses Montreal police of “a wave of repression” against student protests. “You can chase us, arrest us and hit us but you will never succeed in intimidating us,” he says.

November 2011:
30,000 people march to protest tuition hikes. The peaceful event ends with the occupation of McGill University’s administration building.

Feb. 21, 2012:
36,000 students, who make up roughly nine per cent of Quebec’s 400,000 university and CEGEP students, go on strike. Their emblem is a red square, a play on the notion that impoverished students are “squarely in the red.”

March 7:
The number of students on strike continues to climb. Police use tear gas and flash bombs after more than 1,000 protesters block the entrance to the Loto-Québec building.

March 22:
An estimated 200,000 people take to the streets. Despite the presence of small pockets of masked protesters, the event is peaceful.

April 12:
Day marked by 12 hours of rotating protests through the downtown core. Education Minister Line Beauchamp applauds efforts by Valleyfield CEGEP to try to open its doors and urges other universities and colleges to do what is needed to resume classes. About 185,000 students are on strike, with 90,000 threatening to boycott classes until the tuition hike is repealed.

April 19:
As efforts to reopen campuses are met by protests and clashes with police, Beauchamp calls student leaders to the negotiating table. She banishes CLASSE unless it denounces acts of violence, but other student groups demand CLASSE be included.

May 1:
Students present a counter offer which calls for indexing administrative costs at universities, a move they say would release $189 million toward teaching and research costs.

May 3:
Charest and Beauchamp present a proposal that would spread the increase over seven years instead of five. Student groups claim the government has ignored their chief demand that tuition remain frozen at $2,168. During a demonstration outside a Quebec Liberal Party meeting in Victoriaville, police use tear gas after a student protest deteriorates with a group of masked protesters hurling rocks and bottles and setting off fireworks.

May 8:
Student groups reject a tentative agreement hammered out between Beauchamp and student groups.

May 14:
Beauchamp resigns from cabinet and the National Assembly, saying she could no longer be part of the solution. Beauchamp had raised the possibility of a moratorium, delaying the $1,778 fee hike, but student leaders waited all weekend before returning her calls. Within an hour, Charest appoints Treasury Board President Michelle Courchesne to take her place.

May 17:
The Charest government adopts Bill 78, special legislation which suspends the academic year at 14 CEGEPs and university faculties where students are still on strike. The legislation, which expires on July 1, 2013, includes strict rules on demonstrations by groups of 50 or more protesters and heavy fines for those who defy the law. This leads to charges that it infringes on charter rights to expression and free assembly.

May 18:
Molotov cocktails are hurled at police, who respond by using tear gas. There are 69 arrests.

May 19:
Saturday night march quickly deteriorates when protesters light bonfires on St. Denis St. Police use pepper spray and 116 people are arrested. The red-square movement gets a celebrity stamp of approval from the likes of Montreal band Arcade Fire (whose members wear them while performing on Saturday Night Live) and filmmakers Xavier Dolan and Michael Moore.

May 20:
More than 300 people are arrested in night violence marked when protesters hurl asphalt at police. Montreal police throw percussion bombs and charge into the crowd repeatedly in a battle that lasts several hours. More than 300 people are arrested, 10 officers and 10 protesters are injured, at least one seriously.

May 21:
CLASSE launches a counter-attack to Bill 78, vowing to defy the law and “refuse to cede to intimidation.”

May 22:
Unions urge members to join students for a huge rally against Bill 78 scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at the Quartier des Spectacles.
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Old 05-22-2012, 04:35 PM   #2
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Similar protests occurred in the Czech Republic this year.

Kyiv Post. Independence. Community. Trust - World - Czech students protest government reforms

Education shouldn't be free, necessarily, but it must be affordable. Those who have the abilities to learn and succeed in an education system should not be held back by financial burdens, like so many in the United States are.
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:14 PM   #3
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I'm not sure how I feel about this either. I think, at a fundamental level, things like education and medicine should be free, but then what kind of quality will you get if nobody is making money at the other end?
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:15 PM   #4
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I don't have time to formulate a proper response right now, will try to do it tonight.

But I think that overall the student behaviour in Quebec has been rather appalling and reeks of a sense of entitlement. I am not simply referring to the fact that their tuition rates are so wildly below any other province, or the fact that Quebec students benefit by attending any other province's university at rates subsidized by the taxpayers of that province all the while students from other provinces are slapped with exponential fees if they decide to attend school in Quebec, but many, many other reasons.
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:20 PM   #5
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and that is why I need to read more about these things
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:12 PM   #6
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I think there's a happy medium between "free" and $50-$100K out of pocket for just a 4 year undergrad from a halfway decent school (as it stands around here), a degree that in and of itself is often worthless but most entry-level salary type jobs won't even consider you if you don't have a degree in something. Can't really comment beyond that, I have no idea how college/university works in Canada.
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:19 PM   #7
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The entire student movement in Quebec has to be looked at in the context of the Quiet Revolution forward, something Anglophone media in-province and from the rest of Canada has sadly failed to grasp.

Free post-secondary education for all Quebecois was a promise made back during that period of social change, and subsequent governments have failed to deliver for a multitude of reasons. There is also a lot of mismanagement of public money and corruption on QC politics and at the university administration level. The planned sharp rise in tuition basically lit the fuse on a powder keg of a lot of pent up gripes the youth of this province have been dealing with for a decade or two now.

I thought of it in terms of inflation and dollars-and-cents and was disdainful at the beginning of the protests, but my opinion has changed considerably now and I feel that kind of viewpoint is very short-sighted without trying to grasp what's happening in a larger sociopolitical context.

I am very happy to have Quebec being repositioned in Canadian politics to be the country's aggravating but very necessary social conscience; one that has seemed to be slowly eroding during the Harper government's tenure.

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Old 05-22-2012, 06:27 PM   #8
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college costs for attendees is too low

how do you sell a $10,000 car for $20,000?

how do you sell a $10,000 car for $20,000 to people than cannot afford a $5000 car? and may not even need a car?

the same way you sell a $200,000 house for $400,000 to people that can not afford a $100,000 house and may not even be right for home buying
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Old 05-22-2012, 07:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadiens1131 View Post
The entire student movement in Quebec has to be looked at in the context of the Quiet Revolution forward, something Anglophone media in-province and from the rest of Canada has sadly failed to grasp.

Free post-secondary education for all Quebecois was a promise made back during that period of social change, and subsequent governments have failed to deliver for a multitude of reasons. There is also a lot of mismanagement of public money and corruption on QC politics and at the university administration level. The planned sharp rise in tuition basically lit the fuse on a powder keg of a lot of pent up gripes the youth of this province have been dealing with for a decade or two now.
I forgot to mention this context in my original post.

However, while what you say is true, there seems to be a divide between French and English students. Most English students have finished their semesters, and the leader of the largest student union in the province said it's partly because English students don't have the same history of "militant activism" that French students have. And that, I suspect, harken back to the "Quiet Revolution" days in the 1960s.
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Old 05-22-2012, 07:22 PM   #10
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It's a right.

Not across North American issues, but here, you go to university after high school (which your parents pay for) and its ostensibly free; you rack up a debt (which you can choose to pay off) but you don't start paying it off until you start earning a certain amount.

I'm astonished that the situation over there, and the UK/Europe, can lead to sometimes violent protests. We really have it so lucky here.
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
I think there's a happy medium between "free" and $50-$100K out of pocket for just a 4 year undergrad from a halfway decent school (as it stands around here), a degree that in and of itself is often worthless but most entry-level salary type jobs won't even consider you if you don't have a degree in something. Can't really comment beyond that, I have no idea how college/university works in Canada.
If I had gone to my school of choice (which I got accepted into) I'd be $120k in debt after four years not including any textbooks, housing, etc. I have friends that are more in debt than that yet barely make enough to count over the poverty line. In America it's a combination of ridiculous requirements from employers and ridiculous college costs. I have so many examples of this, but here is a major one:

My friend has been working with tech stuff his entire life. He went to a 1 year tech school program, worked in the best buy geek squad for 3 years, and then spent two years installing cable for Optimum Online. Finally he gets his lucky break and gets a full time hourly pay job at a company that maintains servers for businesses. After working there for a few years, he applies for a promotion. This position requires extensive knowledge (which he has) of the technology they are working with. He was passed up for the position because he didn't have a degree. Who got the job? Someone with zero experience in any related field, who had never even worked there, but had a degree in Information Technology. The best part? My friend had to train this guy who had no idea what he was doing. He got paid $9/hour to train some guy making 3x as much as him.

He quit.

I was turned down for a full time sales position because they prefer people with degrees. A sales position. Full time, minimum wage, no benefits. Turned down because they didn't like that I had no college degree. That is ridiculous.

I wouldn't have an issue with the cost of education so much if it weren't for the fact that the vast majority of college graduates aren't any smarter than non-grads. People are coming out of English Lit Bachelors programs who have worse grammar than I do (sophomore year college drop-out). I've watched people graduate from computer science programs who don't know squat about actual computers. Same with a lot of other degrees. Outside of real science programs (medicine, engineering, biology, law, and the like) and business, I have yet to see something taught in college that I couldn't just teach myself. The quality of this education just does not match the price.

This is really common in America. Not sure about Canada, though.
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Old 05-22-2012, 10:00 PM   #12
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Agreed. That's the biggest issue. I applied to work at the public library here shortly after I moved back a couple years ago. The job description was essentially exactly what I did when I worked at the public library in Wyoming. And what was that job? Shelving books, doing a bit of office work here and there, in Wyoming I put together book covers to keep the books protected from mess and dust and old age and such, preparing packages of books to be mailed out to other libraries, that sort of thing. Not exactly tough work that would require a lot of training.

But no. Here a degree was needed to do the job at the library. I applied anyway, just in case, 'cause it never hurts to go for it, but then I got an e-mail saying they'd narrowed down applicants to a certain number and mine wasn't in there. I'll keep checking back to see if there's any other positions there because I'd love to work there-it's something I'd enjoy doing and money-wise, it would help me out quite a bit. But it sucks that I might not even get a look simply because I didn't get a degree. Just because you have a degree doesn't automatically mean you're better qualified to do a job.

As for whether or not education is a right or privilege, well, I think it's definitely a right. People should be encouraged to learn more about the world around them. You do need schooling to gain even basic skills to survive in the world around you.

It'd be great if we could make it free, but then of course, as stated, the debate comes in how to pay for the stuff we do need. But college tuition can certainly be lowered drastically, no question. Private schools are entitled to charge however much they want-you don't have to go there if you don't want to. But public schools? That's a whole other story.
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Old 05-23-2012, 04:47 AM   #13
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A right.
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Old 05-23-2012, 09:08 AM   #14
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Without getting into the Quebec protests/strikes specifically, my answer to the thread would be:

Primary and secondary education is a right. Tertiary education is neither a right nor a privilege, it is a choice.
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Old 05-24-2012, 08:24 AM   #15
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A Casserole demo movement(Bang pots and pans) in Montreal has begun since last week every night at 8pm againts the goverment bill 78.The demo began last Friday after the bill was adopted at the national assemblée.But it has growned rapidely.These are a few shoots from last night in many parts f the city.

(This is a gesture that was use in latin america in Chili and Argentina)

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