If you haven’t heard about Montreal’s student strike of last spring, I suggest you read up on it. This event has gained world-wide coverage, but unfortunately, it is difficult to understand what it’s about unless you live in Quebec. There is currently a summit on education going on, and watching its news coverage has got me thinking.
Going to University in Quebec is one of the cheapest places to go to school in the world. I myself was able to benefit from Ivy League quality education without paying Ivy League price. Tuition (plus added costs) rounds out to about 1500$ per semester for a bachelor’s degree. Yet, when the provincial government decided to increase tuition fees for the first time in approximately 30 years, Montreal students rallied on the streets of Montreal over and over again over the course of spring and summer to protest these strikes.
I was never very supportive of this strike. Being a taxpayer, seeing where the money is going, and where money should be invested, I disagree that students shouldn’t pay more for school. When the bridges are literally falling down, the health system is in shambles, and the public transportation system seriously lacking for a city the size of Montreal, my priorities lay elsewhere than with the University system – a system that is meant to serve only a slim proportion of the population of Quebec, yet requires a massive investment on the part of the government.
But seeing these students go out on the street, smashing windows, disturbing the tourism industry that my boyfriend relies on to make a living, and nearly monopolizing the news media for about 5 months, it got me wondering how I would react if my child was out there on the streets with all of these other children.
I don’t want my child to think that, simply because of the place where she is born, she is magically entitled to have someone else pay for her professional choices. I have started an RESP for her, but I want her to be able to pay her part for her education. For her to place any value on her education, she needs to be able to make sacrifices for it. If it’s handed to her on a silver platter, she’ll only work half as hard as if she really needed to give something up for it. I was incredibly fortunate that my parents not only paid for my tuition, but also for the entire cost of my apartment while I was in school. I am sad to realize that I never really appreciated the value of this gift they gave to me. I coasted through University when maybe I should have taken a break from it until I really felt motivated to get that education. Now, I have to live with the consequences of my actions, with a crappy GPA that won’t allow me to get a graduate education unless I start my B.A. again. Perhaps if I’d had to contribute more financially to keep me in school, I would have made more of an effort.
If my child even dares to try to compare this situation to what is happening in the middle-east (by using the term Maple Spring like they named the Arab Spring, or by banging on pots and pans in the streets as they did in South America when the people were starving while their government misused funds and severely infringed on civil liberties), I will force her to go to some of these countries and volunteer for a local organization to see what it’s really like to not have civil liberties.
Raising children right doesn’t mean giving them everything they want. It’s about helping them learn the value of what they want, encouraging them to fight and sacrifice for the luxuries in life.