Student ‘blind­sided’ by CNA cuts

Nikita Mug­ford feels govern­ment could have han­dled sit­u­a­tion dif­fer­ently

Northern Pen - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS ST. AN­THONY, NL

Nikita Mug­ford was fully pre­pared to start her train­ing as a con­struc­tion/in­dus­trial elec­tri­cian in the fall.

Her ap­pli­ca­tion had been ac­cepted at Col­lege of the North At­lantic’s St. An­thony cam­pus this past De­cem­ber and the Grade 12 student was given no rea­son what­so­ever to think she wouldn’t be do­ing her course come Septem­ber.

And it seemed like she wouldn’t have a prob­lem lin­ing up an ap­pren­tice­ship im­me­di­ately af­ter com­plet­ing the ninemonth pro­gram.

Her plans looked set in stone un­til the news came down from the pro­vin­cial govern­ment last week that the con­struc­tion/in­dus­trial elec­tri­cian pro­gram in St. An­thony was one of seven CNA pro­grams cut from the cur­ricu­lum across the prov­ince.

“We were blind­sided re­ally,” says Mug­ford.

Now, she doesn’t know what she’s go­ing to do.

Mug­ford had al­ways wanted to stay home in Goose Cove, near St. An­thony, for her first year af­ter high school. She says she’s not pre­pared to move away at this mo­ment in time.

“It seemed per­ma­nent, it’s been here for years,” she says. “Why would I ap­ply to go to Cor­ner Brook if I want to stay home? There’s no need.”

More­over, it’s too late to ap­ply to Memorial Uni­ver­sity to start her post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion there in Septem­ber.

Bi­ol­ogy cour­ses that she may be in­ter­ested in tak­ing, given her strength in the sub­ject in high school, are not avail­able online.

And she knows other peo­ple are in more dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions given that they may have re­lied on this too but have the ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of family.

“They can’t just up and go to Cor­ner Brook,” she says. “Even if it’s a mar­ried cou­ple with no kids, they can’t leave their spouse if their spouse has a job.”

Mug­ford be­lieves the pro­vin­cial govern­ment could have han­dled the sit­u­a­tion dif­fer­ently to en­sure her and oth­ers wouldn’t be left in these sit­u­a­tions.

For one, Mug­ford sug­gests a dead­line for en­rol­ment should be set. Ac­cord­ing to her, as it strands presently, any­body can reg­is­ter right up un­til the start of the CNA se­mes­ter. There­fore, many wait un­til the summer to sign up.

She won­ders why the govern­ment would make a de­ci­sion on this be­fore ev­ery­one has had a chance to reg­is­ter. And she’s wor­ried that peo­ple will be apprehensive to reg­is­ter next year, lest they en­ter the sit­u­a­tion she’s in.

She be­lieves this sit­u­a­tion could have been avoided with a hard dead­line be­ing set. Mug­ford ex­plains if there were a dead­line, the govern­ment would have a de­fin­i­tive fig­ure for the num­ber of en­rol­ments and would be able to make a de­ci­sion based on this.

But, as it stands, she doesn’t be­lieve they can know what the fi­nal num­ber would be.

“How would they know if there’s low en­rol­ment if it’s only May?” she asks.

Fur­ther­more, Mug­ford feels if the govern­ment had known the cour­ses were go­ing to be cut, there should have been some in­di­ca­tion for prospec­tive stu­dents like her in or­der for them to have a back-up plan.

“If the govern­ment no­ticed this last year, they could have told us this year, ‘You can ap­ply but there’s a great chance it’s go­ing to be cut,’” she says.

In­stead, she had no idea and was com­pletely un­pre­pared.

And, she says, if the prov­ince wants the St. An­thony cam­pus to thrive, they should do some­thing to see what peo­ple are in­ter­ested in study­ing.

“The least the govern­ment could have done was to ask peo­ple, through a sur­vey or some­thing, what they wanted to see here if they want this cam­pus to meet its full ca­pa­bil­i­ties at all,” she said.

Ul­ti­mately, Mug­ford wants to see the govern­ment put in an ef­fort to keep peo­ple in ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador. And she feels that’s not what is hap­pen­ing here, as young peo­ple like her are be­ing en­cour­aged to take their col­lege cour­ses in Cor­ner Brook in­stead of St. An­thony with de­ci­sions to cut pro­grams such as these.

She en­cour­ages peo­ple who in­tended on ap­ply­ing to do so any­way, to let the govern­ment know just how many peo­ple are in­ter­ested in these pro­grams.

Six peo­ple had al­ready ap­plied, half­way to the en­rol­ment of 12 that was needed. She says she knows peo­ple who had talked about ap­ply­ing as well.

Mean­while, she says it’s im­por­tant for peo­ple like her to just stand up and speak her mind on these mat­ters, when ser­vices are taken away in ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador.

“We’re not given op­por­tu­ni­ties that we want and we don’t kick up enough for it,” Mug­ford says. “We just get stuff taken out of our hands and don’t say any­thing.

“You can’t just sit around.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Grade 12 student Nikita Mug­ford’s ap­pli­ca­tion had been ac­cepted to be­gin the Con­struc­tion/In­dus­trial Elec­tri­cian course at Col­lege of the North At­lantic St. An­thony cam­pus. Now that the course has been cut from the cur­ricu­lum, her fu­ture is un­cer­tain.

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