Shocked and appalled is how the CEGEP federation say they felt when they heard a recent amendment to Bill 96.
The amendment, proposed by the Quebec Liberal Party, would require all students in English-language CEGEPs to take three program-related courses in French in order to graduate.
The change would be tremendous, according to the CEGEP federation.
“Those considerations take time — months, years — to be thought out by specialists,” said Bernard Tremblay, CEGEP federation president. “So to see people — and, with all due respect, people at the national assembly — not knowing what they were doing, and putting that into law, without consultation, was quite frightening.”
On Thursday, Liberal Party Leader Dominique Anglade defended her party’s proposed amendment by saying she thought discussions had been had between the CAQ government and the CEGEPs.
But according to the director-general of Vanier College, that never happened.
He called the amendment surprising and extremely concerning.
“A significant number of these students will experience great difficulty in being successful in their DEC,” said John McMahon.
According to the CEGEP federation, more than 35 per cent of the approximately 29,000 students enrolled in English-speaking CEGEPs do not have enough knowledge of the French language to take program-related courses in French.
The president of the Vanier Student Association said the change can significantly affect students’ future.
“It can easily affect their ‘R’ scores, their grades,” said Isabella Giosi. “It’s not just the French learning — it’s really impeding their education and their future.”
McMahon said he would like to see the amendment eliminated or modified, or, at the very least, be involved in discussions on how to mitigate its effects.
Global News reached out to Quebec’s higher education minister, Danielle McCann, but she refused to comment, referring us to Quebec’s French-language minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette.
On Thursday evening, a spokesperson for Jolin-Barrette told Global News that the amendment was “unanimously adopted during the study of Bill 96,” and with the measure “we are ensuring that all Quebecers have more tools to develop and participate fully in Quebec society.”
“This is consistent with the government’s responsibility to promote and enhance the French language and to facilitate its learning.”
McMahon, however, believes McCann has her part to play.
“(McCann) has a responsibility, a direct responsibility to ensure that the interests of all colleges — anglophone colleges, francophone colleges — are well represented in any of these initiatives and that simply has not occurred,” said McMahon. “We need to have the support of Mme. McCann and we need to have that support now.”