Open, transparent governance and public consultation are the foundational benchmarks of our democratic society.
We may not always agree with decisions made by elected officials, but we at least want to have our say.
Proposed changes to the University Transition Program (UTP) program have left Tracy Adole and other parents and alumni feeling like they don’t have a say. Adole believes this is wrong and counter to those foundational pillars that make our city and country a fantastic place to live.
Adole and other concerned parents, students and alumni all share ties to the UTP – a highly successful, well-established program that includes partner groups from the Vancouver School Board (VSB), the education ministry and the University of British Columbia (UBC).
The UTP program was established almost 30 years ago and represents a critical, accelerated pathway for high-achieving students to expedite their academic and career dreams. The end goal is to lessen a student’s time in high school and gain early entrance to UBC.
Those goals, and the program itself, are now facing drastic changes seemingly made in isolation and without consulting those affected the most: parents and students.
Three major shifts have taken place that caused much consternation and confusion.
A letter sent in December 2022 notified parents that the UTP program coordinator position was no longer and that VSB administration would take on those roles and responsibilities. This unexpected shift took place two months after student assessments had taken place.
The second unwelcome surprise concerned a shift in the open admissions process. Where previously anyone could apply, the process would now be closed to the public and based solely on teacher referrals.
The final change includes a shift in the admissions process, moving from October each year to March.
This, in no way, Adole claims, gives parents the necessary time to plan or to move their families should their child be accepted.
Adole is one of many parents asking the VSB to rethink these changes. She moved her family, along with 12-year-old daughter Alicia, from Coquitlam to Vancouver last year solely to join UTP. Had these scheduling changes been made prior to last year's move, her family would not have had the requisite time to plan a move across the region.
“My daughter was really struggling, and she was getting bored at her previous school,” Adole explains. “Every Sunday night, my daughter would get into these very dull moods because she knew school was coming up. But now, she loves the UTP program. I don’t want other families to miss out on this opportunity.”
Beyond the logistics of moving a family, Adole is most concerned about the lack of transparency.
Recently immigrating to Canada from Nigeria, leaving her home for a new country was a significant step in Adole’s life, steeped in unknowns.
“This is one of the reasons I left my country because when you have decisions and processes that are made in a single room without consultation, it’s really sad,” she says. “I have barriers to face as a new immigrant already, but having a program like UTP was a saving grace that I really appreciated.”
For more information regarding these changes, points of concern, and how you can help, visit giftd.ca.
The views expressed in this article are those of Tracy Adole and are not shared by or associated with Business in Vancouver.