The Ontario government recently announced in 2016 budget that it will offer tuition grant to college students in low income families to cover their education costs. The grant is large enough for families with income less than $50,000 to cover their tuition fees, and allows students from families with income of $83,000 or less to receive more money upfront than they currently get.
The announcement is part of the government’s plan to eliminate sticker shock that deters many students from pursuing post-secondary education, as it intends to ensure that postsecondary education is accessible for those Ontario students who are unable to attend university due to financial difficulties.
But the program may have little impact on the college enrollment rate among Ontario students from Chinese Canadian families. Numerous studies indicate that students in Canada with immigrant backgrounds have already displayed a significant advantage regarding university attendance, and that the university success story is strongest among ethnic Chinese.
加拿大统计局社会政策专家Garnett Picot和Feng Hou所做的研究表明，在加拿大拥有移民背景的学生大学升学率几乎是父母都出生在加拿大的本土学生的两倍，同时华裔学生就读大学的可能性比父母都出生在加拿大的本土学生高出40个百分点。
A study by Garnett Picot and Feng Hou, social policy experts of Statistics Canada points out young Canadians with immigrant backgrounds are almost twice likely to go to university as students whose parents were born in Canada, and that students with Chinese origins are 40 percentage points more likely to attend university than those with Canadian-born parents.
But immigrants generally worse off financially than their Canadian born counterparts. Stats also show that first generation immigrants’ income level is lower than those born in Canada. Needless to say, many university students with Chinese origins are from low-income families. But in a culture where value of education is deeply embedded in, education attainment is often considered top priority for Chinese parents. The fact is that the majority of Chinese families in Canada would never allow their financial circumstances to deter their children from pursuing post-secondary education.
Traditionally, Chinese families would exhaust all avenues and make any financial sacrifices to ensure their children can obtain quality education and achieve high academically. Chinese parents understand that education plays a significant role in their children’s future. It can improve their children’s economic mobility, allowing them to enjoy a quality of life in Canada. Many of them choose to immigrate to Canada for a simple reason – a better education opportunity for their children.
One of my friends, a single mother in her late 50s, takes odd jobs and lives in poverty in Canada. But despite her hardship, she has made up of her mind to support her daughter’s university education. After her daughter got admitted to a prestigious university program in Toronto, she was thrilled, and pulled out all of her life savings to help her daughter pay for the tuition, which costs over $10,000 every year.
Another friend of mine takes manual labour jobs to support his son going through four-year university education in Toronto. After his son got a decent job in corporate Canada, he said that all his hard work and sacrifices have proven worthwhile。
“Education is a game changer for immigrant families like us,” he says.
Apparently, Ontario’s education grant is a boon for students and families struggling financially, but it might not create significant changes in the enrollment rate for Chinese Canadian students. Education is what they are determined to pursue, and is an unavoidable cause in their life journey, regardless of government’s grants or not.
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