Peter Baklinski

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Majority of Quebecers want ‘more freedom’ in education, reject mandatory ethics course: survey

Peter Baklinski

QUEBEC, March 9, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A survey conducted in the province of Quebec revealed that 55% of Quebecers favor the introduction of a school voucher program in which the government allocates a fixed amount of money for the education of each child, letting the parents decide whether their child is educated in a public or private school. The percentage jumped to 63% for parents of school-aged children.

“To be truthful, I think people want more choice,” said Patrick Andries, secretary of the Coalition for Freedom in Education (CLE), to LifeSiteNews. “They want to get away from the monopoly of the education system so that they can have more choice and not be subject to financial penalties because they want to choose a private school.”

The survey, conducted by Leger-Marketing from February 27 to 29 on behalf of CLE, came two weeks after Canada’s Supreme Court denied the pleas of a Christian family to have their child exempted from the Quebec government’s mandatory relativistic course on ethics and religious culture.

The survey’s sample size was 1,001 people over 18 years from all regions of Quebec and had a margin of error of ± 3.1% in 19 out of 20 cases.

Despite the existence of provincial legislation that allows children to be exempted from school curriculum, the Ministry of Education has reportedly turned down over 1,700 requests for exemptions, and has even moved to impose the course on private schools and home schoolers.

“The majority of Quebecers oppose the compulsory nature of ERC [Ethics and Religious Culture course]: a quarter of them would prefer it to become optional while another 29% would scrap it altogether and replace it with a course like French or Mathematics,” stated CLE in a press release.

The survey also found that 54% of Quebecers believe that schools should have a greater freedom in their choice of programs that they teach and in the way that they teach them.

Sylvain Lamontagne, CLE president, said in a press release that the survey’s results “show clearly that there is no consensus around the compulsory nature of the ERC program and that a majority of Quebecers want more freedom in education.”

“Why does a government that prides itself in imposing this one-size-fits-all program in the name of diversity show no more respect for parents and their diversity?”

Andries pointed out that Québec parents are “in line with results published by international bodies like the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] that identify teaching freedom as an essential component to a quality education.”

Research from the OECD indicated that “in countries where schools enjoy autonomy over their curricula and assessments, students tend to perform better”.

The CLE believes that Quebec’s failing education system will only get back on track if the government grants additional freedoms to schools regarding what they teach and how they teach it. The Coalition also believes that such additional freedoms will “better respect the rights of parents.”

“We would like to have more of a free market,” Andries told LifeSiteNews. “We believe that with school vouchers it will be fairer and that it will sit better with what parents want, and even with what the market wants, rather than what bureaucrats decide should be taught. And also it would better respect the rights of parents as first educators of children.”

Contact:
Line Beauchamp, Quebec Minister of Education
Ph: 418 644-0664
E-mail: [email protected]

By Post:
Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport
Édifice Marie-Guyart
1035, rue De La Chevrotière
16e étage
Québec (Quebec)  G1R 5A5

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