In mid-September, Education Minister Sébastien Proulx launched a major consultation with the intent of creating a new governmental policy on educational success. A series of public consultations have taken place across the province since that time which culminated in a meeting held on December 1-2, 2016. Minister Proulx convened over fifty-five Associations to gather in Quebec City to discuss priorities and possible actions towards improving and modernizing the Quebec education system.
This meeting was attended by Minister of Education Proulx, Minister of Higher Education, Hélène David, and the Deputy Minister of Education, Sylvie Barcelo, as was well as other government officials. Each Association was invited to send two delegates to participate in the consultation, with one representative serving as spokesperson and the other as observer
LCEEQ was proud to be invited to participate in this event which represents the first time that LCEEQ has been selected to provide input to the Minister in a face-to-face manner. Cindy Finn, Chair, and Deborah Foltin, Vice-Chair, proudly represented LCEEQ and shared highlights of the LCEEQ brief that was submitted earlier this fall. The proceedings were live-streamed and are archived on the Ministry website: (https://www7.education.gouv.qc.ca/dc/consultation/index.php?page=accueil...).
The event began with Premier Philippe Couillard addressing the assembled delegates and asking each group to state the top priority facing Quebec education today. A daunting task, considering each group only had 90 seconds to define this priority! Responses ranged from concerns regarding budget compressions and their impact upon maintaining sufficient and equitable services, to issues surrounding inclusion and tolerance in the classroom, and everything in between.
The focus of the meeting then centered around three broad areas of intervention, as identified in the consultation documents deposited on the Ministry website (https://education.gouv.qc.ca):
- all students achieving their full potential;
- setting a favourable context for student learning, personal development and success; and,
- mobilizing partners and stakeholders in support of educational success.
Associations were given a brief amount of time over the course of the two days to share observations and recommendations regarding each of these areas of intervention.
In addressing the first, ‘students achieving their full potential’, LCEEQ presented the unique challenges faced by the English Educational Community to provide quality instruction in both English and French in a time of declining enrolment and limited resources. The impact of recent budgetary cutbacks, and, the increasing demands created by the complexity and diversity of students’ needs in the classroom were also highlighted.
When discussing the conditions necessary for student success, LCEEQ cited the need for continued professional development for all educators based upon the latest research and proven methodology, greater emphasis upon offering various pathways for students, as well as, sufficient complementary educational services to support teachers and students, particularly those with special needs. Integrating technology into the classroom and focusing upon digital literacy and citizenship were offered as recommendations for the Ministry’s consideration.
Regarding the last area of intervention, LCEEQ affirmed that family-school collaboration and partnerships are significant contributors towards the success of the English Educational Community, but cautioned that, just as our needs are unique, so too are the solutions that will help our schools, centres, and universities achieve even greater success.
The consultation concluded with remarks by Minister Proulx as well as a group of students from the Rouyn-Noranda area who had served as observers during the discussions. Acknowledging the role of all stakeholders and the importance of literacy towards student success, Minister Proulx ended the proceedings by announcing that a policy will be created to improve and modernize education in Quebec, with news that the government is prepared to invest $20M in new literacy initiatives.
LCEEQ is most appreciative for having had the opportunity to highlight the challenges and needs of the English Educational Community. We eagerly await the Ministry’s response and the announcement of future measures to enhance the educational success of students across the province.