August 20, 2019 1:22 pm

Roberge says ‘many’ children in 4-year-old kindergarten were not enrolled in daycare

A kindergartener holds her mom's hand while going to school.

Anne Christine / Getty Images

Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge says he believes “many” children enrolling in kindergarten this year at the age of four were not already in daycare.

READ MORE: Quebec education minister heads to New York to learn about 4-year-old kindergarten

Roberge acknowledged, however, he had no data to back up his claim.

The education minister made the comments during a press briefing at the National Assembly Tuesday while detailing a study of Bill 5, which aims to implement kindergarten for four-year-olds in elementary schools.

WATCH BELOW: What are the advantages of starting kindergarten at the age of four?

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Since introducing the idea, the Legault government has repeatedly denied the program could weaken the already-established network of early childhood centres (CPE).

Roberge has maintained that a child’s file would follow him from one place to another.

READ MORE: Quebec re-invests in daycare and kindergarten

But when asked by a reporter where these children were coming from, and if they were already attending some sort of childcare program, the minister could not say.

He noted that “many” of them did not attend any daycare. “It’s what I’m hearing,” he said.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec subsidized daycares, a model to emulate?

Roberge added that, in keeping up with the government’s goals, 644 kindergarten classes will be offered this year in lower-income neighbourhoods.

An average of 11 children will be enrolled per class, he said.

READ MORE: Quebec government pushes on with plan to enroll 4-year-olds in preschool

In Quebec, the option to send four-year-olds to kindergarten is expected to expand in the 2020-2021 school year.

The government’s long-term goal is to make four-year-old preschool accessible to all parents within the next five years.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec announces investment in early childhood education

Earlier in the year, Roberge admitted the average cost of each kindergarten class will be $800,000 —  which is six times higher than estimated.

READ MORE: Quebec government needs to intervene to increase graduation rate: expert

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) originally estimated it would cost $122,400 during the provincial election campaign.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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