By 2023, all four-year-olds in Quebec will have the right to attend a kindergarten classroom, but parents will retain the freedom to send or not.
The government caquiste of François Legault has laid the foundations of one of its commitments the most important Thursday in introducing the bill 5, which aims to make pre-kindergarten four-year-old a law in Quebec.
The bill requires school boards to offer enough seats to meet the demand of the little ones of four years, “commencing with the academic year that the government will decide”. At a press conference at the school Without the Border of Quebec, the prime minister is committed to ensuring that this is in 2023.
Mr. Legault is aware that this is a big change and that some parents find that four years is “too young” to go to school. But he believes that this shift is essential to lower the rate of dropping out of school. “I invite all canadians to join in this great project of society.”
He perceives the criticism of the project as the “resistance to change” and argues that the Ontario and New York have carried out similar projects with success. In France, children start school at three years of age.
Mr. Legault remembers that there was also resistance during the implementation of the kindergarten five years in Quebec, in the 1990s, so that today, 98% of children attend the school, even if it is not mandatory.
The prime minister deplores the fact that in Quebec, only 6% of four-year-olds have access to kindergarten, while studies show that 27% of children five years of age have a delay in one of the spheres of their development.
“If children have learning difficulties, it may be better to have a teacher, who has done four years of college, with a team of specialists. But currently, parents do not have this chance-there”, nods approval.
The bill provides that as of September 2020, the classes of pre-kindergarten four years old will no longer be reserved for the underprivileged. All Québec school boards will have the opportunity to open and the deployment will then be able to accelerate.
The minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge argues that the language problems, attention or autism spectrum affect all socio-economic backgrounds.
400 to $700 million
How much will it cost this great project of society? “It will depend”, says Mr. Legault. It all depends on the percentage of parents who have the taste to send a child of four years at the school.
In 2023, the government believes it will cost him between 400 and 700 million dollars per year to run these classes, which not only includes the cost of construction and development. But the prime minister argued that the money is not an issue. “We will add as and to the extent that there is demand.”
If, during the election campaign, the Coalition avenir Quebec had intended that 90% of the parents were to choose a kindergarten for four years instead of the early childhood Centre or nursery, Mr. Legault is now more careful. “It is difficult at least to be clairvoyant, to know the speed at which the parents will want to have kindergarten four years ago.”
For Mr. Roberge, the bill 5 is the beginning of”an ambitious project that will change the game”. According to him, the implementation of these classes in Quebec, will be “gradual, but irreversible”.
It acknowledges that some regions of Quebec lack of space and teachers, but he does not believe these challenges are insurmountable. “There are people that now want us to believe that one is not able to build schools, that one is not able to train teachers, that one is not able to offer kindergarten for four years. I am no longer capable of speech.”
The bill 5 has provoked an outcry Thursday. The opposition parties denounce the obstinacy of the minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge in wanting to fulfill his promise, instead of listening to the environment.
“To have ambition for our toddlers, this is not to have an obsession for the nursery four years”, commented the mp, pq’s Véronique Hivon. According to her, the government has “a bias” taken up ” to the kindergarten classes for 4 years, then it should offer “a real choice” to parents by treating equally the network of the CPE.
She asked the Coalition avenir Québec to retreat on his promise, instead of “get in the groove” this project, which “does not meet the needs neither of the parents nor of the children,” she says.
The liberal mp Marwah Rizqy believes that “the priorities are elsewhere,” in education, particularly in the improvement of the conditions of teachers. She deplores the fact that the minister Roberge going it alone, without a specific plan.
For the solidarity Christine Labrie, bill 5 is “not good solution” to improve academic success. It was hard to understand “persistence” of the minister in this folder. “I don’t understand how is it that the minister is lance in there with his head bowed.”
The Association québécoise des centres de la petite enfance (AQCPE) and the Centrale des syndicats du Québec have both denounced the implementation of “wall to wall” from kindergarten four years.
For the Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance du Québec (FIPEQ-CSQ), the prime minister, Legault has the same view of “disdainful” in respect of the educators in the child Thursday, and it requires an apology. “The prime minister has tried to lower the interveners who work with children by questioning their skills. This is unacceptable,” said the president of the FIPEQ, Valérie Grenon.
“A major challenge”
Alain Fortier, president of the Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec, believes that the introduction of kindergarten classes for four years, represents “a major challenge” in certain regions of Quebec. “The school boards, we will do everything to make sure it worked, but never at the expense of quality. […] It has not the taste to be all crooked.”
Mr. Fortier explained the school boards have always been in favor of the deployment of the kindergartens four years, but they would have liked to be more consulted by the minister Roberge. “It advances, and he hopes to follow,” said Mr. Fortier.