What if education was really a priority
A riddle: what is the investment that occupies about a third of the state budget, whose importance is of capital importance for the future of Quebecers, which is unanimous, but which hardly anyone talks about during the this election campaign? Education in general and higher education in particular.
The campaigning parties quite rightly name the issue of the labor shortage which is currently holding Quebec back in all sectors of economic activity, in both the private and public sectors. However, we all know that this crisis is set to worsen in future years if the education networks – from kindergarten to university – are not put to greater use.
There is an urgent need to tackle the endemic school dropout rate, to reduce teacher-student ratios in classes, to provide adequate resources to students with disabilities or who live with the stigma of two years of pandemic as well than to enhance and facilitate access to higher education. On the university side, by investing $1.2 billion (according to a recent study documented by the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information), it is possible to achieve true free education for everyone. Quebec can! Does Quebec want?
Politicians are debating immigration thresholds. However, despite their number, new Quebecers and their children only ask to work on our soil, where reception and integration begin. They want to upgrade their training or acquire a new one in order to fulfill themselves and to participate as complete citizens in the growth of our society. Such a thing necessarily goes through the education networks.
Right now, all political parties are fueled by environmental slogans. Yet over the past decade governments have underfunded the expertise and high knowledge on our college and university campuses. Teachers are responsible for disseminating knowledge and conducting research likely to ultimately make Quebec eco-responsible and enable us to deal with the climate crisis in particular. This election campaign completely misses these fundamental issues.
A few days before the vote
Between now and next Monday, what we are asking politicians to do is to take a clear position on a broad vision of education from kindergarten to university, as being THE solution for the future to the challenges facing our society. This mission of the State must be financed in a stable and recurring way to ensure long-term predictability and to become a motor of collective emancipation as well as social progress.
It must be prioritized equitably across all regions, across all programs, and across all institutions, regardless of student portfolios, to realize everyone’s potential.
Following the same logic, after the election, the government that won it will have to appoint two separate Ministers of Education and Higher Education invested, committed and attentive to the 35,000 teaching specialists that we are in order to build a Quebec that takes sides for education.
Photo courtesy, Olivier Zuida
Caroline Quesnell, President of the National Federation of Teachers of Quebec (FNEEQ–CSN)