The idea of CEGEP is, frankly, an excellent one. The buffer zone of independence for Quebec students that helps them in the transition from high school – where students are treated like children, chased down for assignments and to attend class by teachers who are underpaid and overstressed, creating an oft-adversarial relationship between students and educators – and university, where professors could care less whether or not your assignment arrives or if you’re even in class. For some students, this jarring lack of oversight can result in blowing off classes and wasting class time and thousands of dollars in tuition, and that, too is not ideal.
But CEGEP, whose tuition costs remain low, and whose professors are more accessible to students and more attuned to the particulars of the demographic, remains an excellent way to explore higher education and help students discover their career paths and passions.
That said, Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois’ proposal to extend Bill 101 to CEGEPS, thereby forbidding anyone whose parents weren’t educated in English from attending John Abbott,Vanier, Dawson or Marianapolis colleges, is a serious threat to the schools themselves, the students involved, the communities that support them and is an all-out assault on personal freedoms – a nice, thick irony, given the PQ’s raison d’etre is rooted in Quebecers’ right to self-determination.
The move to curtail students’ CEGEP eligibility strikes hard at the heart of Quebecers’ desire to be ‘maitres chez nous.’ By taking away an adult’s right to educate themselves however they see fit – and make no mistake, the large majority of college students are over 18 and ought to be free to choose their own paths.
Make no mistake, the large majority of college students are over 18 and ought to be free to choose their own paths. -
The move would have little to no impact on colleges in the regions (the rural areas outside Montreal that largely decide election in this province, much to Montreal’s chagrin) but would ensure tough sledding for the Montreal-area CEGEPs, to say nothing of Champlain-Lennoxville, a popular destination for many francophone high-schoolers across the province. Don’t forget the particular nature of the bilingual CEGEP serving the Gaspesie area. It’s a can of worms that ought never to be opened, and not long after Marois floated the idea of allowing 16-year-olds to vote (why not? They don’t own homes, so they might vote PQ!), the doyenne of social democracy wants to let them help decide who will form the government, but doesn't think they can handle decisions like where to go to college.
The PQ’s campaign slogan is ‘a nous de choisir,’ and francophones already have, clearly, given the bursting-at-the-seams numbers being boasted by Montreal-area English CEGEPS. Wouldn’t it be nice if it those Quebecers continued to have a choice in their own education?