Evidence shows key benefits of early education - QESBA leads way in exploring Kindergarten for four year-olds

    MONTREAL, April 27 /CNW Telbec/ - The Quebec English School Boards
Association (QESBA) has completed a ground-breaking study on the feasibility
of creating Kindergarten programs for four year-old youngsters. The programs
would focus on the child's educational development rather than on simple child
care, as day-care centres tend to do. A number of programs funded by the
Ministère de l'Education, du Loisir et du Sport, operate currently, as do some
community-initiated projects within the nine English school boards. The QESBA
proposal goes much further.
    "We are taking the ambitious step of inviting our school boards and,
ultimately, the Ministry and all Quebecers to begin a serious public
discussion about getting our kids started in school at four years-old," said
QESBA President Marcus Tabachnick. "The evidence is there: high-quality
pre-Kindergarten programs have important and lasting effects on children's
development and success in school and beyond. I have heard of studies in the
United States suggesting that for every dollar invested in children in these
programs, eight dollars will be saved down the line in services otherwise
required to address academic and behavioral difficulties. We've put together a
feasibility study to instigate some activity on the subject, and we hope it
will get things moving."
    QESBA's member boards are assessing the possible models included in the
study and considering establishing pilot projects. At least one board has
indicated that it expects to launch a new program next Fall. QESBA has
introduced the idea to Education Ministry officials, and is hoping to pursue
discussions over the coming months. "Quebec has been a leader in its
commitment to the development of an early learning and childcare system,"
Tabachnick continued. "We believe this is the next major step in expanding
that commitment."
    The QESBA feasibility study grew out of recommendations in last year's
Advisory Council Report on the Future of English Public Education in Quebec,
deposited with QESBA by its Chairman, Montreal lawyer Alex K. Paterson. The
report encouraged Quebec's English school boards to embrace innovative
solutions to secure the long-term future of the English public school network.
    In proposing the creation of pilot projects offering Kindergarten for
four year-olds, QESBA points to a series of potential benefits to students and
the larger community, including the enhancement of a growing role of English
schools at the core of their communities and the opportunity for English
schools to provide the catalyst to an eventually universal program of early
childhood education for four year-olds.
    The study outlines a number of models for the self-financing of such
programs. QESBA hopes its study will prompt the development of additional
approaches which will render such programs fully accessible to all parents.
    "There is no doubt that there are big challenges to moving forward on
this," Tabachnick added, "budget constraints, staffing challenges and
transportation obstacles to name but a few. But, bold ideas that benefit kids
are always worth exploring. We are eager to fully explore this one."

For further information:

For further information: Kimberley Hamilton, Communications and Special
Projects Officer, (514) 849-5900, ext.: 225, (514) 919-3894 (cell)

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Quebec English School Boards Association

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