My name is Anika Munir, a Grade 12 student at East York Collegiate Institute. I always had a strong interest in politics and creating a positive change in my community. To put my interests into action, this past school year I have taken on various initiatives to create a positive change in my community.
Recently, I organized a walkout at my school to be part of The Students Say No protest to raise awareness against the education cuts the Ford government is trying to make.
This was not just a walkout for EYCI students, but it was a movement across Ontario as students are standing up for their rights and aiming for better education.
On April 4, students from across Ontario walked out their classrooms from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. to protest against the changes.
The announced policy changes and financial costs are devastating and will create a negative impact on students. The policy changes and financial cuts include increase in class size, reduce teaching jobs, cut funding for Ontario’s Autism Program, mandatory e-learning courses, Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) changes, cell phone ban and Indigenous content.
There are certain changes that provoked the EYCI students to be part of the walkout.
EYCI students chose to walk out because of the changes made to OSAP. A major change to OSAP consists of removing free tuition which is offered to low-income families. This means the opportunities and right to education for students belonging to low-income families will be taken away. In doing so, their chance of improving their lives and tackling poverty has been taken away.
Not only Grade 12 students, but also grades 9, 10 and 11 chose to walk out over class sizes. The idea of having larger classes is frustrating because some courses are challenging and require extra time, practice and lots of assistance. By increasing the class sizes from 22 students to 28 students, it will be difficult to get help and obtain teachers’ feedback on assignments which is mandatory for students to improve. Also, if there are not many students enrolled in a class it will be cancelled; forcing students to take courses they do not have an interest in.
Lastly, students at EYCI chose to walk out due to the change which requires every Ontario high school student to take one credit per year online using e-learning (for a total of four credits and 440 hours). This is not fair as some students do not have access to internet or technology at home. Therefore, these students will not have a fair chance to excel in e-learning courses. Most of all, every student learns differently and having mandatory online courses may not be the best for every student because some cannot learn online and need to learn in person.