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When day classes for adults started in Vancouver 20 years ago, they were a small solution to a big problem.

The problem was the thousands of adults wanting to get a high-school diploma, but who couldn't secure a spot in overcrowded night classes. The solution was on a small scale, however - just one classroom, two teachers and about 50 students at Vancouver's Lord Tennyson Elementary School.

The program, initially designed to help students get the equivalent of a high-school diploma, has grown to six centres and 172 teachers giving lessons ranging from early literacy programs to Grade 12 biology to more than 7,000 students a year.

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The program is offered from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. so students can attend classes without having to worry about their work schedules or other commitments, said Graham Arthur, principal of the program's Main Street Education Centre.

The students have varying backgrounds - recent immigrants taking high school credits to qualify for other post-secondary courses, home-schooled students enrolling for science courses, adults looking to improve their English-language skills or students with some learning difficulties.

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