24 August 2009

Can we get that in writing for the minister?

Education minister Darin King seemed a wee bit confused about his own department’s policies in a recent macleans.ca story on competition among Atlantic Canada universities for students.

Darin King, the minister of education in Newfoundland and Labrador, said his province already has a recruiting advantage over its regional competitors.

Since 2001, tuition fees in the province have been frozen. And earlier this month, the Newfoundland and Labrador government eliminated interest on provincial student loans - the first province in the country to do so - in a move that could make it a more attractive place to study.

"We're trying to do our best to offer a student aid package ... and enticing them to come to Newfoundland," King said.

Of course, eliminating interest on provincial government student loans wouldn’t entice students from outside Newfoundland and Labrador “to come to Newfoundland” since they wouldn’t be eligible for that assistance.

Interest elimination only applies to residents of the province who receive student loans from the province.  On top of that  – because of the peculiarities of something called geography – they wouldn’t have to be enticed to come to the place where they already live anyway.

So it seems that education minister King can’t really explain at all what sort of “recruiting advantage” post-secondary institutions in Newfoundland and Labrador have when it comes to “enticing [students] to come to Newfoundland.”

He also doesn’t know the name of the province he represents either, but that’s another issue.

Perhaps the next time King gets one of the now infamous oral briefings for ministers, he should try a novel approach and take notes.  That would be something he presumably learned to do as a student.  Either that or he can get his officials to prepare written briefing notes so he can refer back to them later on.  After all, notes are what students use to help them keep track of a wide range of information on a wide range of topics.

As education minister, Darin King should know the value of a written note even if some of his colleagues are more interested in  covering their asses than covering the material.

This interview certainly shows the importance of a cabinet mi9nister knowing what he is talking about.