An increase to the provincial government’s bursary funding for students enrolled in early childhood education (ECE) programs will bolster Selkirk College’s ability to educate those interested in a rewarding career.
At the BC Early Years Forum held earlier this month in Richmond, Children and Family Development (MCFD) Minister Stephanie Cadieux announced that the province would be providing $1 million to the Early Childhood Educators of BC (ECEBC) for the ECE Student Bursary Program. Through the bursary, students attending early childhood education programs in British Columbia can apply for up to $300 per course, to a maximum of $1,500 per semester.
Students in the Early Childhood Care & Education Program at Selkirk College will have an opportunity to access provincial government funds through the $1 million Early Childhood Educators Student Bursary Program.
“This announcement is important because it will provide students with an opportunity to enter into ECE training and leave without a significant amount of student debt,” says Taya Whitehead, an instructor in the Selkirk College Early Childhood Care & Education Program. “This also opens up opportunities for students who might not have otherwise been able to financially afford to take the full program.”
The bursary program was re-established by MCFD and ECEBC in April 2014 and since that time 330 students across the province have shared in the original $513,000 provincial investment. Several Selkirk College students are amongst those who have taken the opportunity to apply for the bursary funding.
“Under the BC Early Years Strategy, we’re improving access to child care by creating up to 13,000 new licensed spaces by 2020,” says Cadieux. “With the increase in spaces comes the need to hire qualified early childhood educators across B.C. Investing in the ECE Student Bursary program will continue to provide a valuable incentive and increased support for those looking to enter the field or refine their skills as an early childhood educator.”
Selkirk College Offers Solution to Shortage
Selkirk College’s Early Childhood Care & Education Program offers both certificate (nine months) and diploma (two years) pathways for students. Starting in September, 2015 the Selkirk College ECCE Infant/Toddler Advanced Certificate will also be offered.
The cash infusion by the provincial government is part of its Early Years Strategy.
“Education is a required resource in order to increase spaces,” says Whitehead, who is also the current president of ECEBC. “In childcare, one of our biggest barriers to providing service is trained staff in order to fill the employment component.”
As an alumna of the Selkirk College ECCE Program, Whitehead is committed to ensuring that the region is well served by graduates who quickly dive into a sector that has been historically short on qualified individuals.
“The people that are drawn to working in early childhood care and education are people enjoy working with young children and have a passion for play-based early care and learning,” says Whitehead. “At Selkirk College we have students who are committed to making a difference in that capacity and having this bursary goes a long way towards making this type of education accessible.”