B.C. proposes a “more inclusive” high-school scholarship programDecember 23, 2013
The Passport to Education program, which has long provided financial rewards to B.C. students for academic and non-academic achievement, is being phased out.
The program awards stamps – worth $250 in Grades 10 and 11 and $500 in Grade 12 – that can be redeemed towards tuition at post-secondary institutions or used for job-training. The program ends this year for Grade 10s, next year for Grade 11s and the following year for Grade 12s.
Stamps issued previously will remain valid until they expire.
The Passport to Education program has been the largest source of provincial scholarship money for many years, with 9,000 students in each grade receiving stamps every year – primarily for scoring well in provincial exams and having a high grade-point average.
But the Education Ministry, in announcing the change, said the program is outdated and difficult to administer. Furthermore, it does not fit with school reforms anticipated under the BC Education Plan and the move towards personalized learning.
The Passport to Education’s demise is part of a broader change to the B.C. awards program. The ministry wants to move away from provincial scholarships based largely on academic performance while giving school districts and independent school authorities greater ability to design awards that recognize student learning in other areas.
“These areas will better align with the goals of the BC Education Plan and allow more students to be recognized for their unique interests like trades, aboriginal languages, volunteer activity or technology education,” the ministry says in a release. “Within these broad categories, districts will have greater discretion to locally manage allocations, tailoring their decisions to the unique demographics of their community.”
The provincial awards program, which has an annual budget of $15.2 million, offers the following awards in addition to the Passport to Education:
– 5,000 provincial exam scholarships, worth $1,000 each;
– 5,500 district/authority awards, worth $1,000 each;
– 20 scholarships to the top 20 academic students in the province, worth $2,500 each;
– Approximately 450 secondary school apprenticeship scholarships, worth $1,000 each;
– 20 scholarships for students enrolling in teacher education programs, worth $5,000 each.
Last year, the ministry held consultations about these awards as part of a graduation program review. According to a ministry document produced at the conclusion, future changes could see a “shift in the awards program from the current narrow focus on academics to a more inclusive model with an expanded vision of success.”
Provincial funding of the program is also expected to change “into a predictable, district-driven model that can be better tailored to the unique demographics in each district while maintaining high standards,” the document says, without elaborating.
Discussions about the future of the provincial awards program are still underway.