Public Funds for Public Education

The bedrock for developing a respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is universal public education.

However, since 1977, successive governments in British Columbia have sought to create a two-tiered education system through a public subsidy to independent schools. A majority of these schools are faith based, while others charge prohibitive tuitions. These barriers segregate society along sectarian and socio-economic lines. Further, the Government has a duty to protect the rights of children, recognized under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in religious independent schools. Humanists have also welcomed innovative and experimental forms of education.

Under our call for an end to public funding of independent schools, the British Columbia Humanist Association:

  • Supports the principle of public funds for public education;
  • Opposes public funding going to faith-based education;
  • Joins calls for the phase out of public funding to all independent schools;
  • Supports greater innovation within the public education system; and
  • Calls on the Government of BC to ensure:
    • the religious neutrality of the Office of the Inspector of Independent
      Schools,
    • all independent schools meet comparable curriculum standards as public
      schools and
    • students in independent schools are free from discrimination and their
      freedoms of religion and expression are protected.

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Latest news


Who reaps the most rewards? The landscape of independent school funding in BC

Christian and Catholic groups are receiving a disproportionate amount of BC's Independent School funding, according to an analysis released by the BC Humanist Association today. Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association: Last week we showed how BC's Office of Independent Schools has been overseen by evangelical Christians for three...

Fox in the henhouse: Oversight of BC independent schools

The Office of the Inspector of Independent Schools, a department of the Ministry of Education, is responsible for the oversight of independent schools. Janet Steffenhagen’s thorough reporting in the Vancouver Sun in 2007 found that every inspector of those schools going back to the 1980s was connected to an Evangelical...

It's time for public funds to go to public education

As students return to schools across the province today, so will the nearly half a billion dollars that continue to flow to private schools in BC. The Province of British Columbia currently provides private schools (also called independent schools) with public funding equivalent to up to 50% of the funding...

It's time to merge Ontario's two school systems

By Samuel E. Trosow, Western University and Bill Irwin, Western University There is a pressing need to consolidate Ontario’s separate and public school systems. Long ignored by most politicians, this controversial idea deserves a fresh and serious policy discussion — especially now, with the new Ontario government contemplating cuts to...

BC Budget continues faith school giveaway

Humanists are disappointed that today's provincial budget continues the multimillion dollar giveaway to independent faith schools across the province. Budget 2018 estimates that independent schools across BC will receive over $425 million in public funding for 2018/19. Independent schools across BC can qualify for up to 50% of the per-student...

Looking back on the Abbotsford creationism battles

All schools and Provincial schools must be conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles. The highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or Provincial school. This section of British Columbia's School Act was written in 1876 and is, as...

Religious conservatives vs SOGI education in Langley

The BC Humanist Association today wrote in support of the SOGI 123 resources being adopted by the Langley School Board. SOGI stands for sexual orientation and gender identity and was created for BC teachers in partnership with the Ministry of Education, the BC Teachers Federation, nine school districts and Out...

Bible classes in schools can lead to strife among neighbours

By Frank S. Ravitch, Professor of Law & Walter H. Stowers Chair of Law and Religion, Michigan State University A federal lawsuit was filed recently against the Mercer County, West Virginia Board of Education, challenging a Bible program in the elementary schools. The plaintiffs are the Freedom From Religion Foundation and two parents and...

Can more religion in schools be a path to secularism?

In a blog post and coverage in the Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) Chair Michael Janz is asking whether his schools should be able to open a Catholic Faith program. Post by edmontonjournal. I knew Janz when we were at the University of Alberta. Since being elected to the EPSB, he’s spoken...

Humanists celebrate end of Bible distribution in SD 27

The BC Humanist Association (BCHA) joins teachers and the President of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Teachers' Association (CCTA) in celebrating School District No 27 decision to end its policy of distributing Gideon Bibles to grade 5 students in the district. In a phone call in response to the BCHA, SD 27 confirmed...

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