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Plan to cap spaces in English-language CEGEPs could have unintended consequences

Click to play video: 'Quebec tables bill to reinforce and protect French language' Quebec tables bill to reinforce and protect French language
WATCH: The CAQ's new language reform bill proposes limiting spaces in English CEGEPS, essentially capping the number of Francophone students who can attend. The bill gives priority to English students but as Global's Raquel Fletcher explains, groups representing Anglophone interests say the government should be focusing its energy on ensuring students become more bilingual. – May 14, 2021

Quebec’s new language reform, Bill 96, proposes to cap the number of places in English-language CEGEPs. It would also give priority to anglophone students.

Over the past 10 years, enrolment in French CEGEPs has declined and gone up in English CEGEPs.

Quebec Premier François Legault said he respects students’ freedom of choice, but he is worried about the decline of French in Quebec.

Read more: Quebec tables sweeping bill to reinforce and protect French language

That’s why, he said, his government’s new bill proposes limiting the number of spaces in English CEGEPs. After some anglophone students with high averages were refused entry, the bill also gives priority to English students.

However, the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) said the government should be focusing on ensuring students become bilingual.

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“(Students) who can fill the needs of business, the businesses already here and the businesses wanting to come in and invest in Quebec,” said QCGN director general, Sylvia Martin-Laforge.

In a joint statement from Dawson, John Abbott and Vanier, the CEGEPs wrote: “The decision to cap enrolment exclusively for English-language CEGEPs at present levels will not address the ongoing desire among many young Quebecers to attend our institutions.”

Read more: Some high school students being turned away from their CEGEP of choice despite good grades

They added, “Limiting our ability to serve these students in the public sector will push more students to study out-of-province.”

That’s something that worries Quebec employers.

“We do everything we can to attract students to our CEGEPs, to our universities. The debate we have on immigration is we need people, more people,” explained Denis Hamel with the Conseil du patronat du Quebec.

Read more: Quebec municipalities concerned over potential loss of bilingual status

The Dawson student union is concerned the cap will mean even more competition, and that only the students with the highest grades will get accepted.

“It’s going to become a very elitist school and that’s not what we want,” said Kevin Contant-Holowatyj, chairperson of the Dawson Student Union.

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He said he would like to see CEGEPs work together to improve their programs in order to meet students’ needs wherever they study.

“There might be, I think, some collaboration that needs to happen between French CEGEPs and English CEGEPs. There needs to be maybe a sharing of knowledge,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Quebec CEGEP  teachers on strike' Quebec CEGEP teachers on strike
Quebec CEGEP teachers on strike – May 11, 2021

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