- School board has reneged on its promise several times to reform the international students program, according to local teachers assn.
- Poor language skills, social isolation, inadequate resources, and chronic cheating by international students are just some of the problems associated with the program
- Students who can’t even speak basic english are expected to pass classes on Shakespeare and Canadian history and politics, to name a few.
By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: July 7, 2013
If you barely said hello in English, how could you pass a course on Shakespeare and Canadian history?
And they continue to do so as international students with poor language skills sometimes make up half of the class at Howe Sound Secondary School.
Meanwhile, the ESL program designed to help these students has been stripped to its bones, despite the fact that the program pumps $1.68 million into the local economy.
But poor language skills are just one issue.
In the past five years, SD 48 has expelled 14 international students and put 36 students on probation. Source: FOI request
Cultural isolation and cheating by international students are just some of the other problems faced by teachers.
What is more frustrating is the school board bureaucracy which promises reform and then reneges on those promises, teachers say.
The teachers have been promised commitment on number of international students that would be allowed, on minimum academic benchmarks for admission, resources for ESL.
These promises have remained just that.
Teachers have consistently raised concerned about inadequate resources, and poor guidelines, but they have been ignored, said Carl Walker, the head of Sea to Sky Teachers Association.
Walker said SSTA has asked for more information on students’ language proficiency before they register, and limits on the number of international students.
“To date, these requests have been ignored and guidelines are either non-existent or have not been communicated to teachers,” Walker said.
When international students first started trickling into Squamish in early 2000, there was a regular ESL class to help weak students.
But with cuts in education, the money coming from the international students program was spread into general revenue.
Now, there are only two blocks for ESL education for 140 international students.
But language is only one part of it.
“We have students who haven’t integrated very well and very isolated within the class,” said one Howe Sound teacher.
The teacher said blatant cheating among international students is another problem.
“Many of these kids are under enormous pressure, and we find entire essays ripped from the internet,”
In the past two months, the Reporter has focussed on international students, starting with the story on a student from Chile who was expelled by the school board from drinking.
School board administrators have refused to discuss the issue of student expulsion openly.
When asked about the expulsion of the international students, this was the response of Amy Shoup, the manager of international student program.