TO BE ENDOWED WITH ONE OF THE BEST EDUCATION SYSTEMS IN THE WORLD BY 2020

MONTREAL, April 12 /CNW Telbec/ - The founders of the Coalition for the Future of Québec, François Legault and Charles Sirois, along with Chantal Longpré, presented a position paper today containing the Coalition's proposals in the field of education. Coalition members are hoping the province of Québec will be endowed with one of the best education systems in the world by 2020. The ideas expressed in the Coalition's discussion paper will serve to initiate a dialogue with Quebecers on the subject of education. Following its series of discussions with the population, the Coalition plans to submit an action plan by the end of the year summarizing the measures that need to be undertaken to get Québec moving forward.

"We can be justifiably proud of our education system, which over the course of a few decades has raised its performance to that of the average of developed countries," stated Mr. Legault. "But we still have a significant gap to close to be up there with the leaders. Consequently, a new wave of changes is required to make our education system one of the best in the world by 2020."

"We are putting forth ideas which strive to improve the results and the efficiency of the public education system," remarked Mr. Sirois. "To do this, we need to bring the citizens' decision-making centres closer together and valorize the efforts of the men and women that work in the field of education."

The Coalition's proposals centre around three major initiatives which will enable the education system to further excel.

Initiative 1: A new contract with the teachers
The Coalition is proposing an average pay raise of about 20% for elementary and high-school teachers, along with more classroom autonomy. The selection and training of teachers and school administrators would be more rigorous, and graduates of university faculties other than education would be able to enter into the teaching field easier.   Meanwhile, teachers would be evaluated twice a year by school administrators. The evaluation would focus on many criteria, including student achievement.

Initiative 2: More autonomy for teachers and school administrators
The Coalition proposes amalgamating the 69 school boards and Ministry of Education regional offices so that there would only be 39 regional offices with clearly defined responsibilities. School board elections and school commissioner posts would be abolished. The bulk of the school board responsibilities (human resources, educational, equipment and computer operations) would be eliminated or transferred to the schools. Parents would have a bigger role in the education system, so we are proposing that there be an increase in the number of parents on school councils. 

Initiative 3: More college and university graduates
The Coalition is proposing that Cégeps and universities commit to using their public funding to improve their performance by focusing less on bureaucracy and more on their service offering to students. It is also proposed that universities be encouraged to combine their efforts to develop areas of learning and research that are international in scope; this could be done by allowing universities to adjust their tuition fees for certain programs. 

These three initiatives would be implemented over a four-year period, and the cost, at the end of the four years, would be $950 million a year. These investments would be funded by the savings related to the restructuring of school boards, the freezing of funding to private schools, the closing of the Université du Québec's head office, and gains in efficiency at Hydro-Québec.

"It's time to act," said Ms. Longpré. "And, it's especially time to have the courage to put words into action. There is no greater collective project than enabling our children to succeed, in a school supported by its community. We need to provide our youngsters with the essential tools for their well-being and their future, which is also our future."

These proposals are in keeping with the initiative the Coalition announced last February 21. There are three other position papers to follow and they will address the subjects of health, economy and culture. Discussions with the population to bolster the ideas advanced by the Council are underway, and they will continue over the coming months, via the website (www.coalitionavenir.org) and in conjunction with events. The initiative will culminate in the presentation of "An Action Plan for Québec" by the end of the year.

SOURCE Coalition for the future of Quebec

For further information:

Paul B. Goulet
(514) 710-8290
    Diane Jeannotte
(514) 772-8019

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Coalition for the future of Quebec

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