Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

NO MILITARY TRAINING IN REGINA HIGH SCHOOLS

Posted by strattof on January 21, 2016

In February 2015, Regina high schools, both public and Catholic, began offering a military training program to grade 11 and 12 students. The program will enter its second year this February.

Initiated by the military, the program has the backing of the provincial government. Both the governing Saskatchewan Party and the opposition NDP support it. School Board trustees were not allowed to vote on the matter.

Should we be educating students for war? How about encouraging students to resolve conflicts non-violently?

MILITARY TRAINING IN REGINA HIGH SCHOOLS 

8 KEY FACTS 

  1. The program is offered during regular school hours.
  2. It has two components: a) Canadian Studies 30, a required course for graduation; and b) Basic Military Qualifications 30L, an elective.
  3. Both components are taught at the Regina Armoury.
  4. A qualified teacher teaches Canadian Studies 30. This teacher works with the Army Reserve staff regarding the teaching of Basic Military Qualifications 30L.
  5. Instruction in weapons handling is part of the program.
  6. Students who take the program earn two credits toward graduation.
  7. They are also paid $2,000.
  8. The military training program is the only course on the curriculum that students are paid to take.

8 QUESTIONS TO REFLECT ON

  1. Whose interests are we serving by welcoming the military into our schools?
  2. From the military’s perspective the goal of the military training program is to “revitalize the reserves.” Should we be turning our high schools into military recruitment centres?
  3. Is weapons handling something we want young people to learn in school?
  4. What is the difference between the military training program and the use of child soldiers?
  5. Is the military training program compatible with the UN’s view of education as enabling “individuals to learn to live together in a world characterized by diversity and pluralism”?
  6. Is the program targeting students from low-income families?
  7. Wouldn’t it be better for society if students were paid $2,000 to study Math or English or Biology?
  8. How about a high school course for credit in Peace Studies?

ENROLLMENT IN THE PROGRAM

The colonel in charge of the program said at the outset: “We’ll gage success by the graduates. They’ll vote with their feet.” Measured by this standard, the program is a dismal failure.

Enrollment Figures

  • Target enrollment: 40 students
  • 2015 Enrollment: 10 students, 5 from Regina Public and 5 from Regina Catholic. Only 9 graduated.
  • 2016 Enrollment: As of mid-January, only 13 students have enrolled, 4 from Regina Public and 9 from Regina Catholic.

Do such low enrollment figures place the program in jeopardy? Surely they should raise the question of value for money! 

COST OF THE PROGRAM

Regina Public supplies the teacher for Canadian Studies 30, allthough just four of the 2016 enrollees are public school students. Board officials have so far declined to provide a detailed breakdown of staffing costs, saying only that expenses are shared with the Catholic board based on enrolment.

Meanwhile, Regina Public is facing a budget shortfall of $6.1 million for the 2015-16 school year, a shortfall it is addressing by eliminating staff positions, as well as lunch-hour supervision.

According to a Regina Public Board official, it is the army’s call as to whether or not the class goes ahead. Is the military now in charge of the curriculum at Regina high schools?

In any case, both school systems seem to be deeply invested in the military training program—so invested that, in an attempt to increase enrollment, they allowed military personnel into their schools to run recruitment workshops for the program.

RESPECT THE STUDENTS’ DECISION

  • Despite the $2,000 incentive, the vast majority of Regina grade 11 and 12 students have voted with their feet against the military training program.
  • They have said “no” to being educated for war.
  • Let’s respect the students’ decision and cancel the program.

STUDY WAR NO MORE!

  • Attend Regina Public’s Annual Meeting of Electors—an opportunity to make motions and to ask School Trustees questions: TUESDAY JANUARY 26, 7 pm, MARTIN COLLEGIATE, 1100 MCINTOSH STREET.
  • Let Premier Brad Wall know you do not want the military training program in our schools: bradwallmla@sasktel.net or 306-787-9433.
  • Send the same message to NDP leader Cam Broten: saskatoonmasseyplace@ndpcaucus.sk.ca or 306-787-0230.

I would no more teach children military training than teach them arson, robbery, or assassination.”—Eugene Debs (1855-1926)

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