French is more than a language that is imposed: it is a mosaic rich in culture and history that deserves to be shared. It is essential to protect and promote the language of Gilles Vigneault in Quebec, Canada and America. However, some of the Legault government’s efforts to do so are misplaced.
Among these are the recent additions to the Charter of the French language which make it possible to restrict the number of students admitted to English-speaking CEGEPs and to impose financial penalties on those who exceed this limit. These measures are counter-intuitive and do not promote the healthy promotion of the French language in Quebec.
For years, English CEGEPs have attracted most students to the Montreal area because of the quality of the training offered and the opportunities available to them. Why does the government penalize them for being attractive? By limiting the number of places in English CEGEPs, their already coveted spaces become more exclusive, exacerbating the divergence between English CEGEPs and French CEGEPs indirectly.
In other words, by establishing a ceiling on the number of students accepted, we concretize the elitism against which the CAQ is fighting.
Indeed, it is not by limiting the academic and professional options of our francophone students or by alienating our anglophone minority community that we will advance French in Quebec society. If 18-year-old adults have the legal capacity to make medical decisions, manage their own accounts and vote in elections, they also have the ability and above all the right to choose the CEGEP where they want to study. It is not the role of the government to make this choice for young Quebecers.
The teaching of French as a second language
As for the learning of French in our minority community, the decisive aspect is not found in the English CEGEPs, but rather in the quality of the teaching of French as a second language in our public English elementary and secondary schools. Although I attended an English-speaking public high school, CEGEP and university, I also participated in a student exchange in France and obtained two university degrees in law in French. My success is rooted in my learning the French language in a French-speaking private primary school, where the level of French was much higher than that taught in English-speaking public primary, secondary and CEGEP schools.
It is crucial to point out that access to higher education remains a privilege in Quebec, which means that some people may encounter considerable obstacles in accessing quality post-secondary education. Applicants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, such as independent students, refugees, and Indigenous people, may experience unique challenges in their pursuit of education, requiring special consideration and flexibility when evaluating their applications for admission. . It is therefore imperative that government education policies take these life circumstances into account to ensure genuine equality of opportunity for all students, regardless of their socio-economic status.
Perhaps a better solution to the francization of the labor market and the learning of French in our English-speaking minority community would be to dismantle the entire college system, introduce a sixth year in high school and convert our CEGEPs into hospitals. Mr. Legault, you have to think further.