Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mount Allison Cancels Free Tuition For Seniors

Judith MacCheyne (right), Kate Cober (centre) and Lucas Cober (left) were all attending Mount Allison University. MacCheyne may not be able to complete her degree after the university decided to terminate its policy of allowing seniors to study for free. (Tori Weldon/CBC)
 Recently I turned 61 years of age. I can  now, officially consider myself a "senior citizen ". I'm not having a difficult time get used to that. What I will never get used to, is the cost of education.  Returning to University at the age of 56 was the most significant decision I'd ever made in my whole life. I am well below the poverty line but being determined to achieve the goal and dream of finally finishing my Fine Art Degree, in spite of the cost, I certainly do not regret  returning as a mature student. As a matter of fact, it was one of the most rewarding and productive times of my life, that will remain with me always, in numerous ways, too many to count.

This is why I was very dismayed by the decision made at by my Alma Mater to change the policy regarding Mount Allison University to cover tuition costs for senior citizens. Though this does not affect me directly as I received my degree, graduating in 2012, but because I know, and fully understand how important it was for me to finish my degree, and what it meant on the day of Convocation. I strongly identify with  Judith MacCheyne who's story was on CBC today. She began her studies at Mount Allison, at the age of 65, and now will be unable to afford to pay for her education. I believe this to be a shameful, heart breaking travesty, from a University that promotes life long learning.

Finally after Judith MacCheyne had raised her family, working hard all her life, as a working mother, she decided to enroll, having the wonderful opportunity to go to University, with her tuition covered. She'd never been able to afford to do this without this policy in place, at Mount Allison University, providing free tuition to seniors, and now in her second year, her dream of graduating has come to a crushing halt. This is so wrong and outrageous on so many levels.

Mount Allison University has the second highest tuition in Canada. It has become next to impossible for those students, without financial help from family, to obtain their secondary education from Mount Allison, without going into crushing debt for the rest of their lives.

I've always been of the opinion that education should be free to all, let alone the mature student or senior that wants to receive a higher education. After some research, I found this online, and it frankly surprised me. It is a Treaty from the United Nations General Assembly entitled International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Adopted by the General Assembly of United Nation on December 1966.

This is part of the text referencing the right to free education.

" 2. The States Parties to the present to the Covenant recognize that, with a view to achieving the full realization of this right: primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all; (6) secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education; (c) higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education; "

What want to know is what the heck happened to this right?

My hope is that there will be a great social media out cry for Mount Allison University to recind their policy and allow Judith MacCheyne to finish her degree tuition free. 

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