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Lauren Goloskyby Lauren Golosky

For those in Saskatchewan wanting to gain basic education, get in line.

In the past year, 9,474 students accessed 7,580 rotating spots in Adult Basic Education (ABE). But that was still not enough to meet demand.


In Saskatchewan, SIAST is the biggest provider of ABE, with around 6,000 seats in basic education programs in four campuses across the province. Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, and Prince Albert all offer ABE programming.

SIAST has the longest wait list, too. According to Della Anaquod, the dean of basic education, that list exceeds 600 people, roughly the size of the graduating classes of Regina’s Campbell Collegiate and Winston Knoll Collegiate combined.

The wait varies among SIAST’s campuses, with Saskatoon and Regina being the busiest. The basic education program encompasses many different aspects. In the Adult Learning Centre at SIAST Wascana Campus in Regina, students work on anything from grade ten math to English language skills to GED preparation.

“We try to identify the demand and gauge the type of demand so we can develop the program or the courses that need to be offered,” Anaquod said.

Many students at SIAST Wascana Campus wait around three months for the various programs, but for some, it is longer. Ahsan Han applied to get his grade 12 education, but after taking a placement test, the wait was longer than he expected.

“I didn’t know that I’d be waiting one year,” he said. “I thought I would get into the program, you know, in like one month or two months.”

Lauren Golosky

SIAST is not the only institution turning would-be students away. Regional colleges across the province cannot meet the demand either, although the wait list is shorter. Plains College reported turning away 25 people from its February intake. Parkland College in Yorkton couldn’t help around a dozen people.

Angela Letendre instructs adult learners at Dumont Technical Institute in Prince Albert, a regional college that serves Métis students. Letendre says the campus in Prince Albert has little to no wait list. While the college’s priority is Métis students, it will take anyone if space allows.

The Saskatchewan government hopes to eliminate the wait list by 2015, the end of the Saskatchewan Party’s term. Last year, it added $1.5 million towards ABE programming, investing a total of $22.9 million. This extra funding paid for an extra 300 seats. But the Saskatchewan government says it comes down to the regional colleges to make space.

“For example, a regional college may decide that this year they’re going to offer additional seats, like 200 more seats, it is within their funding parameters,” said Tony Blacklock, director of foundational learning with the Ministry of Economy. “We give them a budget and then the colleges figure out how they are going to spend that money.”

Anaquod believes demand for adult education will exist as long as Saskatchewan’s economy continues to boom and people want to gain better employment.

“I think the only issue we probably have is facilities, finding the resources or allocating the resources,” she said.

While you’re waiting to get into an ABE program, Anaquod recommends preparing by taking refresher courses or getting assessed through a placement test.

“They shouldn’t be sitting just waiting to get in. We are doing active measures to get them ready,” Anaquod said.

Letendre agrees.

“I think it can give people the opportunity to think about how much they actually do want their education and how persistent they are,” she said. “But I think there needs to be more opportunity, more seats available for learning.”