By Leslie J. Furlong
Ryerson’s halls buzz with that word non-stop. Now, with elections on the horizon, that buzz is fast becoming a roar.
When students talk about education, talk of employment—and unemployment—follows.
Rosario Marchese understands this formula. The New Democrats live and die by the vote of students and the working class, and Marchese needs that vote if he hopes to win a second term at Queen’s Park.
A former elementary school teacher, Marchese has his ideal vision of the classroom, but realizes it is unlikely to become reality. He wants to see more public funds earmarked for all levels of education.
“We can never have enough funding to reduce class size to an ideal number,” he says, but acknowledges “it’s not going to happen.”
What do students pursuing post-secondary education have to look forward to?
Marchese doesn’t address the issue directly, either in his pamphlets or in conversation.
Instead, he sticks to the party line of jobs for all.
The NDP’s answer to Ontario’s economic woes is to spend money to create jobs. Marchese says business and industry should take more responsibility for employee training.
“[Business] is forcing training on the educational system,” he says. “I think it’s wrong, it’s stupid, and it puts the blame on the educational system for the problems students seem to be facing.”
Marchese thinks Canadian companies should be willing to spend the money it takes to train their employees, following the example set by Germany, where apprenticeships and training are a major component of economy. Marchese says this would leave universities free to truly educate students, instead of being a supply line of spare parts for industry.
“The educational system doesn’t have the money or the technology to train its students,” he says. “A person can be trained in the workplace in months where it would take school several years.”
As Marchese outlines the plan, it suggests there will be no place for polytechnics like Ryerson in the province.
Marchese also says that unions, which have traditionally opposed apprenticeship programs in this country, must change their stance in order for the programs to be accepted.
If the NDP loses this election, as many pundits predict they will, Marchese says post-secondary funding will be in jeopardy.
He says Progressive Conservative and Liberal promises to lower taxes and balance the budget will force tuition to skyrocket.
If the PC’s or the Liberals are elected, a tuition increase is “inevitable,” Marchese says.
“Their numbers don’t add up.”