Rural areas in Nova Scotia are at a disadvantage with internet access, and it has resulted in many challenges for post-secondary learning while they learn from home this year due to the pandemic.
“During the last number of months, we have seen the challenges firsthand of working and learning from home in rural areas due to the lack of reliable internet,” says Colton LeBlanc, Progressive Conservative MLA for Argyle-Barrington. “For some post-secondary students in Argyle-Barrington, online learning from home will not only be challenging, but nearly impossible due to poor and unreliable internet access, putting them at a major disadvantage.”
Josh Greene of Lower Argyle will soon begin online studies in his first year in the Bachelor of Kinesiology program at Acadia University. He contemplated taking a year off due to the unpredictability and unreliability of internet access. “I do not want to be at a disadvantage having to begin my studies this year from home with poor quality internet. Although I am thankful for the upgrades to the internet infrastructure coming to my area, this will not help me during me this year and possibly next year as well,” says Greene.
Many post-secondary students are now accessing learning tools exclusively online. Public school students could potentially be in the same situation if a second wave occurs. LeBlanc says that reliable internet access is vital in ensuring students do not fall behind and become discouraged from their studies.
“A practical solution for increased access to reliable internet is to invest in our public libraries as they are set up with internet and workspace,” suggests LeBlanc. “Increased hours and frequency of days of operations at public libraries in rural communities could bridge the gap for students to access the internet with minimal cost.”
LeBlanc is calling on Labi Kousoulis, the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education and Leo Glavine, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage to make simple changes to fund public libraries for increased hours in rural areas to ease restrictions that the lack of reliable internet has put on many communities around Nova Scotia. (See letter attached) Students in rural areas will benefit from increased access to public libraries.
“It is the responsibility of Minister Kousoulis to ensure students in our province have the tools they need to succeed. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented challenges and requires the system to pivot to best serve the students of Nova Scotia,” concludes LeBlanc.