Cuts to adult special education programs announced by the College of New Caledonia (CNC), Monday, will mean students like Bree-Anna Robertson have no chance of a higher education.
Bree-Anna is in her third year in the Open Doors program at the college. When Bree-Anna was nearing the end of high school, her mother Terry Robertson advocated for the creation of the Open Doors program to give special needs students advanced education opportunities.
“She doesn’t talk, she doesn’t walk… but there is something going on in there. She isn’t going to go out and get a job, but she should still have an opportunity to learn,” Terry said. “I don’t think CNC has a clue what they’ve taken away from these kids. These three years have been really important to Bree-Anna’s maturity. It’s a huge transition to what adult life is going to be like.”
The Open Doors program runs two full days and one half day a week, she said. Students study a broad range of topics including math, English, science and technology.
It’s normally a two-year program, but Bree-Anna got special permission to take a third year, she said.
“I really dread the program closing. (Without it) she’d just sit at home,” Terry said. “Going to CNC is really the highlight of her week. Part of going to college is having friends around.”
Bree-Anna is confined to a wheelchair and there is little she can take part in during the winter months, she said.
The Open Doors program is the only one of its kind in the province, she said. In Vancouver and Victoria there are programs which allow special needs students to audit regular courses, but many special needs students couldn’t do that.
“I could probably do that. Bree-Anna could sit and listen if it was something she was interested in. But a lot of her friends wouldn’t be able to sit and audit a class,” Terry said.
Terry said she and her family
“I haven’t lost hope that I will create something new. That’s my passion
On March 17, Terry plans to hold a session for parents of special needs adults to discuss the next steps. The session will be at AimHi Prince George Association for Community Living (950 Kerry) at 7 p.m.
On Feb. 4, CNC president John Bowman announced the college is facing a $1.1 million budget shortfall.
On Monday, Bowman announced that the adult special education programs offered at the college
According to information released by the college, the programs have smaller than average class sizes and higher than average faculty to student ratios.
“…these are among the most expensive programs to deliver on a per full-time equivalent student basis,” a press release said. “If additional funding becomes available and the college’s financial situation improves in the future, these programs would be a high priority to reinstate.”