The Ontario Student Trustees’ Association – l’Association des élèves conseillers et conseillères de l’Ontario (OSTA – AECO) has released its Student Platform for the 2018 provincial election campaign.
Titled “A Turning Point for Education”, it outlines deficiencies in the current education system and offers policy recommendations for Ontario’s political parties to include in their educational platforms. The 16 recommendations hope to ensure Ontario’s education system continues to improve, while addressing urgent barriers to a quality education.
A copy of “A Turning Point for Education” can be accessed at www.osta-aeco.org.
District School Board Ontario North East student trustees Jaykob Walton and Aiza Asif applaud the report. Their top 5 of the 16 recommendations for the improvement of education in Ontario include: suicide intervention and mental health training for school staff (as well as programs for students), an increase in per-pupil funding of guidance counsellors, basic training in CPR/First Aid, self-defence and conflict prevention for students, alternatives to online courses in rural high schools (eg. in-person and online hybrids or dual credit programs with local colleges), and the expansion of the Urban and Priority High Schools program (UPHS), which provides funding to high schools in urban low socioeconomic status communities with low graduation rates and significant numbers of families in low financial states.
“I see these issues present throughout our DSB ONE high schools,” says Jaykob Walton. “Mental health is a top priority. Our high school students should be given training sessions on dealing with stress, whether at school or home, in a non-judgemental environment. Many students aren’t able to properly process the added stress at certain times of the year and should be given the appropriate help. It also helps to know that there are others dealing with similar things, and we are never alone in the fight.”
"Along with mental health, I think one of the main issues of focus in the North should be equitable access to opportunities,” adds Aiza Asif. “Being in the North, students can sometimes feel disadvantaged in the educational opportunities that they have available to them. To combat this, I think rural and Northern school boards should have funding provided by the government for alternatives to online classes, and increases in specialized courses. When it comes to education, the quality that students receive should never be determined by where they live."
In November 2017, OSTA-AECO conducted the Student Survey, an online survey of 8,230 students from 62 school boards in Ontario. It featured questions about a range of educational issues and its results solidified the foundation of the Student Platform. The Platform also cites data from OSTA-AECO’s 2017 Ontario Student, Parent, and Educator Survey report.