Reform Update of November 17, 1997
The purpose of this newsletter
is to keep MEQ staff and staff in the school system abreast of developments
in the implementation of the ministerial plan of action for the reform of the
education system. Education Reform Update will generally feature
short articles or questions and answers on the reform. Readers are encouraged
to make copies and share them with colleagues.
Education Reform: Specific Goals
The ultimate goal of
the education reform is to improve the quality of student learning. Attaining
this goal will involve enriching learning content, identifying the basic skills
and knowledge, determining the content to be included in the programs, and revising
the programs in order to streamline and clarify them. It will also require improvements
to the organization of teaching in our schools.
Before we can make any of
these changes, we must first alter the education environment within which they
are to take place. Some basic conditions must be satisfied in order for the
reform to be successful.
We must focus on the essential
part of what students are to learn. In other words, we must remove all of the
extras that have been added on over the years and keep only the basic skills
and knowledge that are crucial to students success: mastery of the language
of instruction and of the second language; mastery of the fundamentals of mathematics;
knowledge of history; knowledge of the arts; knowledge of the fundamentals of
science; and the development of effective work methods. Other essential skills
and behaviours relate to students personal and social development.
It is also important to
improve the cultural content of the programs of study. Each program will be
revised to set out explicitly the cultural aspect of the subject it covers.
For example, language of instruction programs will place more emphasis on literature
and literary history.
There is a need for a standard
curriculum that is more rigorous. The objectives of the programs must be clear.
The same holds true for their connection to the other subjects in the curriculum.
Programs that are not redundant, fair evaluation methods that are easily understood
by students and their parents, and authoritative, interesting teaching materials
are so many elements that will stimulate students love of learning.
To reduce academic failure
and the dropout rate, our schools must give special attention to each student.
In other words, they must give all students, even those who are having a hard
time, the opportunity to develop their talents and skills. All students can
learn even the most complex concepts when given the means to do so.
Another goal of the reform
is to prepare students for lifelong learning. Rather than have students simply
receive knowledge, this approach gives them an active role in its discovery
and construction. The idea is to train them to ask questions, discuss their
ideas, and make connections.
Finally, the redesigned
curriculum could not have the desired effect if it did not give teachers the
leeway to use their judgment. Teachers will enjoy the latitude they need in
order to use their professional skills to the fullest and work with students
effectively. For the same reason, the programs of study must be based on the
learning to be achieved by students, not on standard norms.
Revision of the Programs: The Heart of the Reform*
Over the next few years,
the programs of study will be revised in order to enrich their content or adapt
it to changes in the subject-time allocation. New programs will be developed.
Furthermore, a programs committee, the Commission des programmes détudes,
will be established to set the broad guidelines for the development and
revision of programs.
Programs will no longer
be developed by grade level, but by cycle. They will be drafted in simple, straightforward
language free of any technical jargon. They will leave the choice of teaching
methods and strategies up to teachers. Moreover, they will be designed to take
up only 75 percent of the allotted teaching time so that teachers will have
greater flexibility to enrich or adapt their content.
A new program, called the
program of programs, will set out the learning to be acquired by
students across all subjects in the curriculum. This cross-curricular learning
consists of skills, behaviours and attitudes which allow students to transfer
learning acquired in a given context to various fields of activity.
To promote ongoing reflection
on the curriculum, a programs committee, theCommission des programmes détudes,
will be formed. It will supervise and coordinate the revision of programs. This
advisory body will make recommendations to the Minister of Education on the
content of the programs. Its members will include teachers and school personnel.
All of these changes
will be made, not in a hasty manner, but certainly without delay in order to
provide our young people with an education that is better adapted to the world
in which they live.
Within the next few months,
the programs committee will propose a timetable for the implementation of the
programs. The revised programs will be implemented at the same time as the new
The new programs will be
phased in as of September 1999 and their implementation should be completed
by the end of the 2002-3 school year at the elementary level, and by the end
of the 2005-6 school year at the secondary level. Deadlines may be moved up
in certain cases, such as that of the history programs.
Learning in Five Fields
The programs of study
will be revised to ensure that all students master the basic skills and knowledge.
The new curriculum will be restructured on the basis of five fields of study:
languages; technology, science and mathematics; social sciences; arts education;
and personal development. It will also include cross-curricular learning.
The language of instruction
will be the top priority in all aspects of the curriculum. A major part of our
heritage, language is the stepping stone to all other types of learning. Emphasis
will also be placed on the second language and a third language. Young children
have a natural ability to learn language and learning a second and a third language
can only help them find their place in todays global village.
Students must understand
the world in which they live. They must therefore be introduced to science and
technology in the early stages of their education. If they are familiarized
at a young age with the spirit and methods of science, they will be better able
to understand the ethical issues raised by scientific progress.
Every day, we calculate,
measure, and interpret quantitative data. A fundamental knowledge of mathematics
is thus an essential ingredient in our basic education.
In a society where human
relations are more and more complex, a solid base in the social sciences will
help students better understand their own society and will open their minds
to other societies. History, citizenship education, geography and economics
will allow them to understand our institutions and to trace the roots of present-day
It is also important to
develop students sensibilities and creativity. Arts education will introduce
students to different forms of artistic expression. It will provide students
with opportunities to visit cultural venues. It will also bring them into contact
with and help them understand the works of art that are part of the cultural
heritage of humanity, with particular emphasis on the visual arts and music.
development will be the focus of the religious education, moral education, and
physical education and health education programs.
Finally, students must acquire
skills and attitudes that do not fall exclusively within the basic subjects,
and so must be included in all of the educational activities held in a school.
They are part of what we refer to as cross-curricular learning, and are grouped
into four categories: intellectual skills; methodological skills; attitudes
and behaviours; and language skills.
By developing these skills
across the curriculum, students will be able to organize and do their work more
effectively, to work with others, and to use new information and communications
SHOULD YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS
about the education reform, please contact the Ministère's regional
office in your area.
next issue will look at:
- Compulsory schooling:
the organization of teaching
- Professional development
for teachers, student evaluation and the approval of teaching materials
purpose of Education Reform Update is to keep readers up-to-date on the progress
of the reform set out in A New Direction for Success: Ministerial Plan of Action
for the Reform of the Education System. The newsletter is published by the communications
branch of the ministère de l'Éducation, in cooperation with the
office of the Deputy Minister of Education.
of Communications: Daniel Legault
Coordinator: Michel Moisan
Bibliothèque nationale du Québec
Bibliothèque nationale du Canada
ISSN : 1480-2902 File: 97-0656
Code : 55-1852A
Ministère de l'Éducation
1035, rue De La Chevrotière, 11e étage
Québec (Québec) G1R 5A5
Telephone : (418) 644-5816
Fax : (418) 528-2080
Education Reform Update
will relay information on the revision of the programs as soon as it becomes