Incomplete program, insufficient teaching materials and poorly trained teachers: the start seems difficult for the new Culture and Citizenship Quebec course, which is being taught in the form of pilot projects in schools this year. A brake is already claimed, while the “omerta” surrounding this experiment is also denounced.
This new course, which will replace the controversial Ethics and Religious Culture program, is being tested this year in some thirty Quebec schools. Quebec is aiming for its implementation in all primary and secondary establishments from the start of the 2023 school year.
However, this is an “unrealistic political order”, affirms a source involved in the deployment of new content.
“The pilot schools don't have a lot of equipment, everything has to be built. The training is coming in drop by drop,” she laments. A draft version of the program is available online, but entire sections remain to be completed.
The story from teachers participating in the experiments is similar. “For a pilot project to be effective, a written program must be implemented. The Ministry finishes the writing of the program during the pilot projects. Despite all the good will (…), if we want to be able to train coherently, we have to postpone for a year, ”says a teacher.
Line Dubé, president of the Quebec Association for Ethics and Religious Culture, agrees. “It’s way too fast, it doesn’t work. You would have to postpone for at least a year to have time to get it right. Where is the emergency?” she asks.
She reminds us that the Ethics and Religious Culture course, whose implementation had not been smooth, had been tested for two full years before its large-scale implementation.
Sex education, which will now be taught as part of this new course, also raises several concerns, adds Ms. Dubé.
At the Federation of Teachers' Unions (FSE-CSQ), we also note that the beginnings are difficult for the new course.
Teachers who participate in the pilot projects expected to “turnkey” educational content, but no evaluation and learning situation is yet available, deplores its president, Josée Scalabrini. “We are building the plane in full flight,” she says.
At the Autonomous Federation of Education, it is estimated that this reform deserves a brake in order to complete the writing of the program and the teaching material associated with it.
Josée Scalabrini is also surprised by the lack of transparency surrounding these pilot projects.
The Federation had to make an access to information request to obtain the list of participating schools, while the teachers who experimented with the program had to sign confidentiality agreements.
“ This is the first time that i see this. I have already seen confidentiality agreements when a program is in development, but not when you are in pilot projects. I never knew it would go that far. It's omerta. It’s very surprising,” says Ms. Scalabrini.
At the Ministry of Education, it is indicated that the confidentiality agreements have been concluded with the teachers “to prevent the information shared from being disclosed externally by anyone other than the Ministry itself”.
The provisional programs that are the subject of pilot projects at the elementary and secondary levels have been made public “for the sake of transparency and in an exceptional manner”, underlines its spokesperson, Bryan St-Louis.
The Ministry still expects the new program to come into effect for the start of the 2023 school year, he adds.
Quebec Culture and Citizenship
This course will replace the Ethics and Religious Culture course, taught since 2008.
It will be part of the subject schedule from the start of primary to the end of secondary (except in third secondary).
This new course aims to prepare young Quebecers to exercise their citizenship, through the practice of dialogue and the development of critical thinking.
In elementary school, self-knowledge, relationships with others, digital education, identity and ecological transition could be among the topics covered.
In high school, students could discuss public institutions, social diversity, identity transformation, rights and responsibilities, and egalitarian relationships, among other things.
Sex education content will be included in these different themes.
A provisional program at the elementary and secondary levels is being tested this year in 32 schools in the form of pilot projects.
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Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128