The education system that we know today is the most striking symbol of the progressivism backed by the Quebec Liberal Party. At the beginning of the 20th century and start of the next century, extensive measures to ensure high-quality public education were taken by Liberal governments. The Liberal government of Philippe Couillard has also put education at the core of its plans for Quebec.
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The first steps towards high-quality public education
As early as 1943, the Liberal government of Adélard Godbout made the right to education a fundamental pillar of our society by passing a law that made school attendance compulsory for young people between the ages of 6 and 14.
Having decided to make education a national priority, the government of Jean Lesage established free primary and secondary education in June 1961, as well as compulsory school attendance until the age of 15. The creation of the Ministry of Education in 1964 was the culmination of this work to modernize education.
Giving everyone the opportunity to express their talent according to their aspirations
Today, our education system is at a major turning point in our history. The Liberal Party is committed to placing schools at the heart of our “national social contract”. With this in mind, a particularly important goal guides our efforts: giving everyone the opportunity to express their talent according to their aspirations. In this respect, we believe that it is essential not only to develop an effective general education system, but also vocational training in line with the needs of the labour market.
We believe that this approach is a concrete solution to the widespread problem of school drop-out. As a developed society, Quebec cannot accept that nearly 200,000 young people are not engaged in education, training or employment. This is why learning is one of the priorities of the Plan for Success in Education and Higher Education, in which the Philippe Couillard government has committed additional investments of $500 million over several years.
At the same time, in view of the decline in the number of employees in CEGEPs outside of urban centres, we decided to invest $1.5 million to encourage mobility between urban centres and regions and flexibility for student programs.
This measure is part of our strategy to increase the competitiveness of Quebec’s less populated areas as well as the number of initiatives promoting access to digital. Finally, because we are working with all age groups, it was essential to adopt an ambitious approach to childcare services. We have always made family and family development the cornerstone of our policy. Two main approaches have been chosen to meet the needs of children. Firstly, in our view, we needed to improve the acceptance conditions for childcare by investing up to $30 million. Then, in order to guarantee social solidarity, we introduced tax measures so that the contribution of families to the network was truly proportional to their income. The stabilization of our public finances is an opportunity for the Liberal Party to make human capital one of the drivers of our economic growth.
In addition, we decided to embark on an ambitious venture to modernize educational institutions, countering those who accuse us of tearing public services apart. The Liberal Party is once again repeating its commitment to social solidarity and education by investing $700 million for school refurbishment. $1.2 billion was spent in total on the education system in order to restore social advancement in our society.
Improving services for pupils and students
We are investing an additional $500 million to ensure success in education and higher education, specifically:
- To provide young people with a stimulating learning environment and to help them stay in school ($300 million);
- To give young people the desire to succeed and to excel, especially through physical activity and by strengthening ties with various civil society partners, including those in the cultural sector ($120 million);
- To strengthen links between the education network and companies in order to better meet labour market needs ($80 million).
Acting early and in the right place
The Plan for Success in Education and Higher Education included in the 2016-2017 budget provides for the deployment of specialized staff to support students with learning disabilities, particularly in disadvantaged areas. Investments of $159 million over the period 2016-2019 are planned for this purpose. For the same period, the Plan also anticipates additional investments of $108 million to address dropping out and $33 million for various other initiatives, including the 21st Century School Project.
Giving pupils and students the desire to succeed and excel
Providing a variety of educational opportunities for young people also means giving them a taste for success and opportunities to experience it during their education. Under the Plan, initiatives totalling 40 million are proposed over the period 2016-2019 to encourage young people to succeed and excel. These initiatives include:
- Enabling success through physical activity in schools ($8 million);
- Promoting learning and success through contact with arts and culture ($ 3 million);
- Implementing the Placement Réussite program to create and strengthen links with key civil society partners ($4 million);
- Supporting success in colleges and universities ($25 million).
Continuing innovation in education
Links between the education network and companies help provide training to young people that allows them to meet their potential while meeting the current and future needs of the labour market. In this context, the Plan provides for investments of nearly $80 million over the period 2016-2019 for continued innovation in education and higher education by:
- Supporting workplace experiences and matching education with employment opportunities ($26 million);
- Increasing training and funding for optimization projects ($24 million);
- Promoting mobility for Quebec students ($13 million);
- Supporting college technology transfer centres ($16 million).
Improving school infrastructure
For the next three years, an additional $700 million is also planned for the improvement and renovation of educational institutions. This investment will:
- Maintain assets in school boards and higher education networks ($500 million);
- Make schools more environmentally responsible ($100 million);
- Build new gymnasiums in schools ($50 million);
- Finance the construction of sports and recreational facilities ($50 million).
A: It is wrong to say that the education budget has shrunk, as the following graph shows.
A: The government plans to gradually introduce 4-year-old kindergarten, starting with the creation of 100 new kindergarten classes for 4-year-olds as of September 2016.