Delta Students Lead Conversation in Education

Category: DistrictSchool
(From left to right) Monika Jandu, Cameron Kainth, Harneet Bariana and Rafay Chaudhry are the four Delta students taking part in this year’s Student Voice program. (Grace Kennedy photo)

“We have the power to make a difference with our schools.”

Four North Delta Secondary teens are preparing to tell the ministry of education what high school students need when it comes to transitioning into the real world.

Grade 12 students Monika Jandhu, Cameron Kainth, Harneet Bariana and Rafay Chaudhry are all part of the B.C.-wide program BC Student Voice. Chosen by councillors in their school for their work in Delta’s Older Guidance Group (high school students that help mentor kids in elementary) these teens first joined students from across the province together to discuss policy and changes with the ministry of education back in September.

“Usually when we did surveys from Grade 8 to Grade 11 about how to fix our school, whatever we implemented, they never really changed.” Kainth said. “So it was cool to find out people actually do care, and they’ll help us change our district.”

As part of the project, each school district puts on a conference for their high school students. In late April, the students will all reconvene with the ministry of education to share their findings and spark some change in the system.

Jandhu, Kainth, Chaudhry and Bariana decided to do their conference on the transition to life after high school.

“I think it’s something that, being a student and talking to you friends, it’s something that comes up a lot,” Bariana said. “It’s a major thing.”

The conference, held on Feb. 20 at North Delta Secondary, invited students from all Delta high schools to come, workshop ideas for change and listen to speakers about how they handled the transition.

“A lot of the schools, I found, weren’t doing much to help with the transition,” Jandhu said, adding her school is better than most.

North Delta Secondary’s career centre, Jandhu said, sends out emails to every student in Grades 10 through 12 about post-secondary and career opportunities.

“Just sharing ideas was really good, because a lot of schools didn’t know that that existed,” she continued. “And they could try and implement that in their school now that they know.”

Although they invited students from every Delta high school, the 36-person conference only saw one student from South Delta Secondary and none from Delta Secondary. Despite the lower than expected turnout — Jandhu was hoping for 50 attendees — they were still able to collect some ideas to bring back to the ministry.

“A lot of people wanted more course options,” Jandhu said, “to discover what they want to do, or what they’re interested in doing after high school.” Finances were also a key topic, with students wanting more support when it comes to budgeting.

Currently, Planning 10 is the course that teaches students about budgets, Kainth said, “and they’d rather have that moved to Planning 11 or 12 so it stays fresh in their minds.”

Students also requested a greater focus on real life applications for skills taught in the planning course, including strategies to manage their mental health and guidance on how to succeed without school guidance after graduation.

Jandhu, Kainth, Bariana and Chaudhry will be returning with students across the province to speak with the ministry from April 27 to 28 in Richmond. They’re hopeful that the findings from their conference will spark a difference.

“We have the power to make a difference with our schools,” Bariana said. “Even when you think you can’t really do anything — before this, it was just the way it is. You don’t have really much say in it.

“But from this you learn you can actually make a difference.”

Original article: Grace Kennedy,North Delta Reporter, published March 17.