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Pierre Luc Brisson August 20, 2012
Original French Text: http://quebec.huffingtonpost.ca/pierre-luc-brisson/education-debat-quebec_b_1811381.html
This morning you will read plenty of analyses of yesterday’s leaders’ debate. Comments on Pauline Marois’ jacket, her haircut and her –too? - sweet tone. On Jean Charest’s arrogant smile, François Legault’s aggressive tone or Françoise David’s performance. Everyone will enjoy dissecting the funny gestures, what was left unsaid, the linguistic twists and turns. But after a two-hour verbal tête-à-tête, with the Moisan report hanging in the air, they debated everything from the number of doctors necessary for our system, to law 10 to their positions toward the federal government, such that there was only one loser in yesterday’s debate: education. The education that 200 000 student hit the pavement for last spring. The education that, in everyone’s opinion, should be THE priority for a society that wants to remain anchored in the reality of the 21st century. It is education, we must remember, that, after the historic conflict that shook Québec’s cegeps and universities, brought on this summer’s election.
A number of questions for the future
No word was spoken on the subject, except for Québec solidaire’s spokesperson’s small overture into free education. Not that health or the economy was a legitimate, important concern either. But after Québec went through a social crisis regarding the university system’s financing and future, it seemed somewhat out of sync for none of the three “principal” party leaders to approach the subject. Yet the stakes are high and largely go beyond the September 4 election. Above and beyond the question of financing the university system, what must be the educational project of our post-secondary system for the coming years? Providing the ultra-specialized technicians that the employment market will need, or concentrating on finding a balance between technical training and humanistic education for the future citizens of Québec? What future will the humanities, often considered “useless” in a world measured by economic performance, particularly in the Anglo-Saxon system, whose most aberrant mistakes we unfortunately tend to imitate, have in the collegial and university systems? What will we do in the face of the multiplication of building projects, universities surrendering to a veritable “client” hunt, and this, without real coordination, from the mouth of the Conseil supérieur de l’éducation itself?
We also could’ve questioned teachers colleges, the many future professors who sadly, year after year, fail French exam necessary to achieve their grade. Or the general culture passed on to them, to those who are quite often “technicians” of the pedagogy of superficial and disembodied knowledge, interchangeable with that of their other colleagues, regardless of discipline! After a decade of pedagogical reform, it may have been pertinent to have a short assessment of the reform in the presence of two former ministers of education. If the ideas that underlie the pedagogical renewal are laudable beyond all doubt, has then the application of the reform lived up to the expectations of the actors within the education system? However, this exchange, which may have been among the most pertinent, did not take place.
In short, there were lots of questions and few answers on the fundamental issue for the future of Québec. The next weeks and months are crucial and, without a doubt, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois was right in saying that the September 4th election will not settle the education system and the university network’s problems for the time being. The folders are so complex, the stakes very high; a two-hour debate, a thirty-five day election may not be able to solve them. However, what is a public debate or a general election for if it is not to size up the visions of the future of those who hope to govern us? The collection of ideas in this dossier is more than meager. We hope that the various party leaders will know how to bend considerably in the coming days. Our education system certainly deserves it…
Translated from the original French by Translating the printemps érable.
*Translating the printemps érable is a volunteer collective attempting to balance the English media’s extremely poor coverage of the student conflict in Québec by translating media that has been published in French into English. These are amateur translations; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may still leave something to be desired. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us at email@example.com. Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.