This document sets out, under each of these seven lines of action, the measures adopted to implement the reform.
Immediate, concrete action
Some of these measures are simply an extension of current activities, while others imply exploring new avenues. Where the necessary changes are clearly identifiedwhich is the case as regards early childhood services, Montréal schools, and vocational and technical educationthe ministère de l'Éducation (MEQ) has made commitments which will translate into immediate, concrete action.
Work to be continued
In other areas, work must be continued to clarify the appropriate orientations. On issues such as the revision of elementary and secondary school curricula, the rationalization of university education and continuing education, for example, hasty action would be unwise. Committees or task forces have been created and the results of their work are expected before the end of the school year.
Amendments to legislation and regulations
Other measures, such as giving more power to the schools, entailamendments to legislation and regulations. In such cases, the measures described in the following pages are obviously conditional on the adoption of the amendments by the legislative or executive authorities.
And, of course, a change in our attitudes and practices will also be required as an essential condition for our collective success!
THE NEW DIRECTION WILL INVOLVE:
PROVIDING SERVICES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
Broadening the range of services
The new provisions of the family policy stipulate that the MEQ and the Office des services de garde à l'enfance will extendeducational services for 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds. This will give all children an opportunity to develop and acquire skills that will give them equal chances for success in school. The MEQ will also encourage the extension of school day care services and will confirm their role in the educational process.
Full-time kindergarten for 5-year-olds will be available from September 1997. All school boards will be required to offer this service, but attendance will not be compulsory. As a result, 85 000 children who currently attend kindergarten for half of the day will now be able to do so on a full-time basis. At the moment, only 10 000 children, mainly in disadvantaged areas, are registered for full-time kindergarten.
As provided for in the family policy made public on January 23, 1997, early childhood centres will gradually be developed and will offer low-cost services for all 4-year-olds. Children will thus be assured of care and supervision that will promote their development. They will also have the opportunity to gradually become acquainted with a stimulating learning environment and to acquire skills that will give them an equal chance for success in school.
For 4-year-olds with special needs, especially children with handicaps and children living in disadvantaged areas, the current half-day kindergarten will be maintained. Free educational services offered by school day care personnel will gradually be added for the other half-day. In addition, for a fee, school day care services will be made available to these children in the morning, at lunchtime and at the end of the day. Where half-day kindergarten for 4-year-olds is not offered by schools, early childhood centres, under the authority of the Office des services de garde à l'enfance, will provide free educational services for children with handicaps and children living in disadvantaged areas for a total of 23.5 hours per week. This measure will be introduced gradually, first in the Greater Montréal region, then in disadvantaged areas in other regions, and finally throughout Québec.
Children in school day care
School day care services will be extended to more elementary schools. Currently, only 40 percent of Québec elementary schools, mainly in urban and semi-urban areas, provide such services. All school boards will be invited to develop them and to ensure that some of the time spent by students in day care will be devoted to helping them with homework and lessons.
The parents of children who are now in elementary school will continue to qualify for existing fiscal measures relating to child care expenses until the end of their children's elementary studies. As of September 1997, however, the parents of children coming into the new system will not qualify for these fiscal measures. The MEQ will adjust school boards' budgets to reflect the new provisions of the family policy.
The necessary resources
In its basic allocations to school boards, the MEQ will provide theresources required to pay for the additional costs generated by the extension of educational services for 5-year-olds (operations and new teaching staff). These costs are estimated at $138 million for 1997-98 and will be covered mainly through a fiscal reorganization resulting from the new provisions of the family policy. Also, in its capital expenditure planning, the MEQ will give priority to projects aimed at converting or adding space to accommodate these children.
PROVIDING SERVICES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
Reviewing the preschool education program
In view of the fact that kindergarten will be available on a full-time basis for all 5-year-olds from September onwards, and that existing kindergarten services for 4-year-olds will be maintained, the MEQ will shortly begin a review of its preschool education program. To do this, it will seek the advice of early childhood specialists. The revised program will be submitted in May 1997.
It will also be necessary to coordinate the educational services provided through schools and early childhood centres for 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds. The MEQ and the Office des services de garde à l'enfance are working together on an integrated preschool education program.
PROVIDING SERVICES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
Continuing to support parent effectiveness training
For parents, guiding and helping their children as they progress through school is a task that is both demanding and essential. However, educators' actions are more effective when they are well coordinated with parents' efforts. This kind of partnership between schools and families improves the quality of parents' interactions with their children and raises parents' educational and occupational aspirations for their children. The MEQ will therefore maintain its support for the Passe-Partout program, which helps some 10 000 economically disadvantaged families with 4-year-olds. The school boards will also be invited to continue the activities currently available to the parents of 4-year-olds in half-day kindergarten. These include, for example, the involvement of parents for one half-day per week in activities aimed at developing the children's vocabulary, language and general knowledge.
PROVIDING SERVICES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
Supporting initial training and professional development of educators
Broadening the range of early childhood services, reviewing the preschool education program and coordinating the educational measures aimed at 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds will entail providing early childhood educators with access to quality initial training and professional development.
The MEQ and the Office des services de garde à l'enfance, in cooperation with the school boards and organizations concerned, will see to it that the initial training and professional development available to early childhood educators is adapted to suit the new situation.
THE NEW DIRECTION WILL INVOLVE:
TEACHING THE ESSENTIAL SUBJECTS
Reviewing the curriculum
The term curriculum refers to the elements that structure what students learn in school: subjects to be taught, teaching time, programs, evaluation of student learning, certification of studies, and the organization of the various learning paths.
At the elementary and secondary levels, most of these elements have not been reviewed to any significant degree in the last 15 years. A review is now necessary to adapt the curricula to social, economic and cultural changes, so that they take account of the growing diversity of the school population and equip both general education and vocational education students to face the challenges of the next century.
A task force, chaired by Paul Inchauspé, will be mandated to make recommendations to the Minister on changes to the elementary and secondary curricula. In executing its mandate, the task force will take into account the impact of any recommendations on teaching personnel.
The task force will table its report in June 1997; its recommendations and the ensuing decisions will take account of the MEQ's intention to implement the new programs in the first years of elementary school beginning in September 1998. All of the programs will be reviewed within the next three years.
The task force's proposals will deal with:
The task force will also be required to make recommendations on the mandate and modus operandi of a projected provincial curriculum committee.
THE NEW DIRECTION WILL INVOLVE:
GIVING MORE AUTONOMY TO SCHOOLS
Making legislative changes
One of the main levers in the process of ensuring that as many students as possible achieve success is the capacity of individual schools to adapt their services to the needs and characteristics of the populations they serve. If each institution is truly to be able to exercise its responsibilities, it must be able to makeand act on pedagogical, administrative and budgetary decisions. This calls for a new division of responsibilities between schools, school boards and the MEQ. The Education Act will be amended accordingly.
The revision process
This spring, a draft bill will be submitted to a parliamentary standing committee for public consultation. It will include, among other things, a detailed proposal for the division of powers between schools, school boards and the government. The bill will be tabled in the National Assembly for adoption in the fall of 1997.
SUPPORTING MONTRÉAL SCHOOLS
Not all Montréal schools are in difficulty. The relatively low success rate in many of the city's public schools is due mainly to the significant percentage of disadvantaged children and an equally significant percentage of immigrant students who arrive in Québec partway through their education and who are undereducated.
The proportion of students who are behind in their schooling is much higher in schools in Montréal's low-income areas than in other schools on the Island. In 1995, 34 percent of students in the last year of elementary school and 65.1 percent of students in the first year of secondary school had fallen behind, compared with 18 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively, in other schools. Remedial measures exist, but they are insufficient to give these students equal chances for success.
Priority must be given to the schools with high concentrations of these students in order to provide them with the support they need. Based on the classification of the Conseil scolaire de l'île de Montréal, the MEQ will target 95 elementary schools and 23 secondary schools considered to be the most disadvantaged. These schools have a total of 50 000 students and are attended by three-quarters of all disadvantaged students on the Island of Montréal. Most are located in the centre and east of the Island.
To take up the challenge of success, schools should be able to count on the support of parents, community, economic and social organizations, postsecondary establishments and other institutions. This support may take various forms: sponsoring of schools, presentations by resource persons, and so on. The idea is to stimulate students' desire to learn, to succeed and to surpass themselves. Schools should reciprocate by getting actively involved in the community.
In Montréal, the reform implementation strategy will rest on the creation of a strengthened zone of cooperation around the target schools. The MEQ will establish a representative group of the main social, educational and economic players whose job will be to make sure that the orientations selected for these schools are in line with the expectations of the community, and that the reform is implemented at a pace that reflects the community's realities and constraints.
In addition to the $10 million it already allocates to the Conseil scolaire de l'île de Montréal, the MEQ will set aside approximately $10 million from its budget for this plan of action, plus an additional $10 million for the development of services for 4-year-olds, in accordance with the new provisions of the family policy.
Half-day kindergarten for 4-year-olds is currently available in disadvantaged areas. However, some 2 000 children living in the target school areas do not attend kindergarten, either because some schools do not offer it, because a limited number of places are available, or because the parents choose not to use the service. The number of children attending school day care as well as kindergarten is relatively small, since many parents find the service too expensive.
The Greater Montréal region will be the first to offer free educational services for 4-year-olds in disadvantaged areas, for a total of 23.5 hours a week. As of September 1997, 86 of the target schools will offer half-day educational activities through their school day care services to complement existing half-day kindergarten services. Early childhood centres established under the family policy will gradually increase the current supply of services in order to offer free educational services for 23.5 hours per week to the 1 800 4-year-olds living in disadvantaged areas who do not have access to the services offered by the 86 schools.
Full-time kindergarten for 5-year-olds, which is not yet offered in all of the target schools, will be made available throughout Québec from September 1997 onwards. In the target schools alone, this will give 1 500 additional children the opportunity to attend full-time kindergarten.
Schools should be able to adapt their organizational framework and teaching to the characteristics of their students. This is one of the keys to success. Where a large percentage of the students have learning difficultiesas is the case in the target schools, for exampleschools should organize their timetable and teaching in a way that will enable them to correct problems at the appropriate time.
The MEQ will also encourage the diversification of remedial measures by providing financial incentives for the creation of learning support and remedial mechanisms as alternatives to having students repeat a year.
For students from immigrant families who arrive in Québec partway through their education, especially those of secondary school age, integration into regular classes is particularly difficult. A great many of these students are undereducated. They sometimes have a poor knowledge of French and often find it difficult to catch up. For them, welcoming classes are not always a suitable alternative.
The MEQ will review its budgetary rules to give priority to students from cultural communities who arrive in Québec partway through their elementary or secondary education with severe academic deficits. The choice of methods will be left to the schools, which will decide, for example, between extended placements in welcoming classes, language support measures or the introduction of a complementary remedial program.
To help these students, the MEQ also intends to develop parental support models in cooperation with the school boards. It will obtain cooperation from the Secrétariat à la famille and the ministère des Relations avec les citoyens et de l'Immigration.
Nearly two-thirds of students in the target schools will have fallen behind by at least a year by the time they reach secondary school. The vast majority will abandon their studies before obtaining a diploma. Some will enter a life skills and work skills education program, but here again, only half will continue through to completion. In addition, not all of the programs lead to the MEQ's attestation of skills. Consequently, many target school students will leave secondary school without any kind of recognized preparation for employment.
The MEQ therefore intends to ask the school boards to prepare a plan to increase the availability of life skills and work skills education programs in all target schools in the coming year. Students must complete the two-year program and receive an attestation of skills. The development and enrichment of work- place internships will also be promoted, with the cooperation of the ministère de la Métropole, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal and other partners who are already actively involved in this area.
The number of young people in vocational education programs is abnormally low on the Island of Montréal, compared with other regions. In fact, the number of students under 20 years of age in this type of program has actually declined over the last five years. The MEQ and the Island of Montréal school boards will decide on a special plan of action to correct the situation.
Many parents in disadvantaged areas have expressed a need to be better equipped to support their children as they progress through school, especially when their children are having difficulties. A fairly extensive community group network is working with these parents, but there is a need to coordinate their action with that of schools.
In addition to parent effectiveness training for the parents of 4-year-olds in kindergarten, the MEQ, in cooperation with the school boards, the ministère de la Sécurité du revenu and the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, will develop a program to provide for the appointment of liaison officers in the target schools. These officers will be trained to coordinate relations between schools, families and community groups.
The role of the health and social services network in the schools is to prevent and attempt to resolve social health and psychosocial problems that can hinder students' progress and success in school. There must be greater consistency between its actions and those of the schools.
The effectiveness of this type of intervention must be improved, throughout Québec and in Montréal, particularly in the target schools. The MEQ and the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, together with their partners in the education, community and municipal sectors, will prepare a plan of action in order to better coordinate the efforts of the various players and better harmonize actions aimed at school-aged children.
The cultural field offers a wide range of resources. However, the target schools do not sufficiently take advantage of these resources to enrich their program of activities.
Artistic and cultural activities motivate young people by encouraging them to make use of their inner resources, creativity and talents. Also, contact with Québec creations helps immigrant students integrate into their new social environment. For all of these reasons, the MEQ, in cooperation with the school boards and with the support of the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and its partners in Montréal, will develop measures aimed at giving students in target schools greater access to existing educational and cultural programs such as Writers in the Schools, Artists in the Schools and Specta-Jeunes.
The teachers and principals working in target schools must deal with special difficulties tied to economic disadvantage and the integration of newly arrived immigrants. Constant resourcing is a requisite if these schools are to stay attuned to students' needs. Fortunately, universities and research bodies are conducting studies on teaching approaches, the adaptation of intervention strategies for students with special needs, and methods of adapting curricula for students of different cultures. In addition, consultants can provide support to target schools in the development of plans to improve the quality of their services.
Contacts between professionals such as these and the school community are not frequent enough to enable the school teams to make full use of their expertise and obtain better professional support. The MEQ, with the school boards and in cooperation with the ministère de la Métropole, will develop strategies to facilitate the use of professional support resources.
The issue of intercultural relations and the role of schools in this area concerns society as a whole. However, it is of particular importance in the Greater Montréal region, which is where the majority of Québec's immigrants live.
A government policy on immigration and integration was published in 1990. As the time has come to clarify the responsibilities of the education community in this area, the MEQ, in conjunction with the ministère des Relations avec les citoyens et de l'Immigration, will present a policy statement on intercultural education and cultural integration. It will propose guidelines and avenues for action for the elementary and secondary levels, and will also address the consequences for college education.
To achieve this, the MEQ will form an advisory committee composed of intercultural education specialists. This committee will make its comments and suggestions to the ministerial task force responsible for drafting the policy. The task force is expected to table the draft policy on June 30, 1997. The MEQ will then consult all of its partners in the education system to make any necessary changes to the policy before its official adoption.
INTENSIFYING THE REFORM
Beginning in February 1997, the MEQ will ask the school boards and colleges in each region to establish a communications strategy aimed at students and parents and including a section on programs leading to non-traditional occupations for women. The MEQ will also ask educational institutions to see to it that students have access to adequate information on trades and occupations and to job exploration activities (section 3 of the experimental program) that will help them make better educational and vocational choices.
In collaboration with the Société québécoise de développement de la main-d'oeuvre, the MEQ will provide each region with information on the vocational and technical education programs that offer the best job prospects by publishing the results of follow-up interviews with former graduates and providing data on labour market needs.
Since the Québec Skills Olympics provide a unique way of promoting vocational and technical education among students and parents, the MEQ, in collaboration with educational institutions, socioeconomic partners and the other ministries and organizations concerned, will continue to support them financially.
The diversification of access paths to vocational education will be carried out in collaboration with the education networksthe school boards and collegesand teachers. The MEQ will seek their input before determining the terms on which the new paths introduced on an experimental basis over the last two years will be organized and funded.
This work will begin in February 1997, and will ensure that the new paths are introduced alongside the current intensive path, which consists of programs leading to the Secondary School Vocational Diploma (SSVD) and the Attestation of Vocational Specialization (AVS). This intensive path will be maintained in order to meet work force training needs and the needs of young adults who wish to resume their studies or change career paths.
The MEQ will put the emphasis on earlier access to programs leading to the SSVD, i.e., after the Secondary III level (section 5 of the experimental program). The general education component of the programs will be adapted and offered in conjunction with the vocational education component. Between now and the year 2000, all school boards offering vocational education programs will be required to assess the feasibility of introducing such programs.
In order to promote continuity between the levels of education and to eliminate educational dead-ends, the MEQ will encourage the development of integrated secondary/college programs (section 4 of the experimental program) accessible after Secondary III. Once approved by the MEQ, integrated programs will be offered on an experimental basis in the following areas, beginning in September 1997: electromechanics, electronics, mechanical engineering and forestry.
Other integrated programs may be offered on an experimental basis in 1998, in the following sectors: Administration, Commerce and Computer Technology; Food Services and Tourism; Buildings and Public Works; Mechanical Manufacturing; Forestry and Pulp and Paper; Communications.
The underrepresentation of female students in many vocational education programs calls for special attention. Currently, 90 percent of girls and women enrolled in vocational education programs are concentrated in only four sectors. In order to significantly increase the number of girls and women in other sectors, the MEQ will ask school boards to identify and implement measures to give them better access to programs leading to non-traditional occupations.
With its partners in the school boards, the MEQ will continue the implementation of programs leading to a Vocational Education Certificate (VEC) and preparing students for semi-specialized trades (section 2 of the experimental program). This path will be accessible to students who have successfully completed the Secondary II level. The general education component of these programs will be redesigned to include the basic subjects students will need should they decide to pursue their studies towards an SSVD or a Secondary School Diploma. In 1997, over 100 school boards will offer programs leading to semi-specialized trades, and the MEQ estimates that, in the year 2000, all school boards will offer such programs.
The MEQ will continue to support school boards that wish to develop new VEC programs to meet local labour market needs, subject to agreement on terms for their organization and funding.
In order to encourage the establishment of bridges between life skills and work skills education programs and VEC programs, the MEQ will evaluate the possibility of issuing a statement of competencies to students in life skills and work skills education in the youth sector and students in sociovocational integration programs in the adult sector.
Together with its labour market partners, the sector-based committees, the Société québécoise de développement de la main- d'oeuvre and the school boards, the MEQ will take part in the implementation of a new apprenticeship system.
The MEQ's contribution will consist in facilitating agreements on shared responsibility for training between schools and businesses, funding school-based training and awarding diplomas.
Between now and June 1997, the government will make the required amendments to the Regulation respecting the application of the Act respecting private education to allow businesses to offer vocational training leading to a diploma awarded by the MEQ.
These amendments will exclude businesses from the application of the Act respecting private education and the regulations thereunder, which are not compatible with the role of businesses participating in an apprenticeship system.
However, the Minister will specify conditions to be met by businesses to guarantee the quality of the training they deliver and to justify the issue of a diploma.
With the help of its labour market partners, the school boards and the colleges, the MEQ plans to increase student enrolment in work- study programs from 4 000 to 6 000 within the next three years, with special attention being paid to the enrolment of female students in programs leading to non-traditional occupations.
The MEQ intends to promote the work-study format within businesses and public and para-public organizations (the ministries, their networks, government corporations, municipalities, etc.) so that they will provide work placements each year for students enrolled in work-study programs.
Beginning in February 1997, the MEQ will distribute a promotional brochure and a handbook to prepare businesses to accept trainees and to encourage them to do so. An Internet site will be set up to provide interested businesses and organizations with information on work-study programs.
In order to raise the profile of this type of program, the on-the-job training received as part of a work-study program will be entered in the official transcript of students in vocational education at the secondary level and technical education at the college level.
At the same time, the MEQ will continue to provide professional and technical support to educational institutions that wish to introduce work-study programs or improve their current offerings. The MEQ will hold information and awareness activities, distribute appropriate materials and organize task forces.
The provincial committee on vocational and technical education programs will act as the main link between the MEQ and its partners in the workplace and the education system. The committee's role in this respect will be to encourage support for work-study programs among corporate executives and coordinate the efforts of the education and business sectors.
The MEQ will encourage the institutions to increase the supply of services and the number of places available in vocational and technical education. Possible means of achieving these goals include double shifts, year-round programs and the use of new information and communications technologies. The MEQ will contact all government organizations and municipalities and ask them to consider giving the education community access to facilities and equipment which could be useful in delivering vocational or technical education.
The general education component is a stumbling block for many students in technical education programs, and sometimes even prevents them from graduating. To address this problem, the Minister has asked the Conseil supérieur de l'éducation for advice on the place general education should occupy within technical education programs and on the ways in which it could be better adapted to and integrated into such programs.
Some educational institutions are already involved in setting up inter-level links and mechanisms to promote such links are already in place. Both the provincial committee on vocational and technical education programs and the postsecondary education liaison committee, for example, address this issue as a part of their mandates.
To intensify current efforts to harmonize vocational education and technical education most effectively, the MEQ will, beginning in March 1997, identify the programs between which the educational institutions can establish bridges. Identifying the competencies that are similar from one program to the other will facilitate the recognition of prior learning and thus eliminate overlaps which are costly and demotivating for students. The secondary school and college programs will be harmonized so that students can obtain an SSVD and a DEC (college diploma or Diplôme d'études collégiales) in the same field within a shorter time frame than if they completed two separate programs.
To better articulate technical education programs and university programs, in addition to intensifying the work of the postsecondary education liaison committee, the MEQ will extend the membership of the provincial committee on vocational and technical education programs to include two members from the university community. Universities and colleges will also be encouraged to agree on bridges to facilitate the admission of graduates from college-level technical education programs into university programs.
Lastly, in April 1997, the MEQ will start a survey of the technical education and university programs which would lend themselves to harmonization. The MEQ will also publish information on projects currently under way.
The MEQ will intensify the work it has begun with its partners in the education sector to ensure that, in each region, a three-year plan for the development of vocational and technical education options is adopted.
The MEQ will base its own three-year plan for the development of vocational and technical education on the three-year plans drawn up by the regions.
CONSOLIDATING AND RATIONALIZING
In 1993, the college sector began a major process of reform following the adoption of renewal measures. These changes must be continued, but even greater change is needed to give colleges more leeway, especially as regards programs, and to encourage concerted action between institutions. After consulting its partners, the MEQ will take steps to amend the General and Vocational Colleges Act and the College Education Regulations.
The MEQ will define only objectives and standards for college-level programs and will leave colleges free to select the most appropriate means to comply with them. Currently, the MEQ not only sets objectives and standards for all college-level programs, but also determines the learning activities to be offered in the core general education component (philosophy, language and literature, physical education) and at least 50 percent of the learning activities to be included in the program-specific component of pre-university programs.
In future, all colleges will be able to develop and implement a program leading to an attestation of college studies (AEC or Attestation d'études collégiales) in any field where a program leading to a DEC is currently awarded. At the present time, ministerial authorization is required if the college does not offer the DEC program corresponding to the AEC program it wishes to introduce.
While MEQ financial support for programs leading to an AEC will be maintained, it is possible that legislative amendments will be introduced to allow colleges, where necessary, to offer self-funding AEC programs by charging fees to students.
The rules and regulations currently in force will be reexamined during the yearly exchanges between the MEQ and the colleges. For example, the MEQ may modify the financial limit beyond which a college must seek MEQ authorization before acquiring, constructing, extending or converting a building. Current practices governing capitalizable spending may also be reviewed.
The long-standing distinction in the budgetary rules between subsidies granted for regular programs, continuing education and summer courses will be reviewed, to allow a more broadly-based approach to human resources management and a rational, flexible development of the supply of services at the local and regional levels.
Legislative and regulatory amendments will allow the creation ofregional colleges and provide for changes to the budgetary rules to encourage colleges to group their administrative services or tomerge. It will henceforth be possible to annul a college's charter on the recommendation of the Minister.
To encourage students to commit themselves to the successful completion of their studies, a new financial incentive will be introduced in 1997-98. Students failing more than one course in a given term will, before registering full time in a college for the following term, have to pay a special $2-fee for every hour of instruction they received in all failed courses, except the first. The objective of this measure is not to collect extra revenue but rather to improve the pass rate from the current level of 83 percent to 90 percent by the end of the 1999-2000 academic year.
Already widely used in Québec colleges, new information and communications technologies must become true resources for teachers and students.
In September 1996, the MEQ made public a three-year plan of action in which it earmarked an annual budget of $7 million for the next three years to extend and upgrade the hardware base.
A yearly budget of $2.2 million will be devoted to supporting projects aimed at integrating new technologies in the educational process (hardware acquisition, resource development, technical and professional support for teachers).
In addition, a yearly $100 000 subsidy will be granted to an organization known as the "Vitrine APO," set up by the college network to showcase educational computer applications.
CONSOLIDATING AND RATIONALIZING
The Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec (CREPUQ) has set up a joint commission to examine therelevance and complementarity of university programs. The commission, which enjoys a completely independent status, will report directly to the institutions concerned.
The commission is made up of three administrators in the fields of teaching and research, five faculty members, a contract lecturer, three university students, a professional staff member, a support staff member, a representative of the socioeconomic sector who holds a university degree, and an observer appointed by the MEQ.
The work of the commission will be guided by standards of academic and scientific excellence, will rely on the participation of members of the university community, and will respect the independence of individual institutions as regards the programs they offer.
The commission will examine programs by mini-sector and will forward its recommendationsfor consolidation, specialization, merger, closure, etc.directly to the institutions concerned. The results of its work will, however, be made public. The commission will produce public reports twice a year, the first being scheduled for the end of May 1997.
University funding draws frequent questions and criticism. One reason for this is that the strategic orientations behind the funding rules are not always clear. Another is that the rules need to be adjusted to better reflect certain widely supported objectives, particularly those relating to student success, such as improving student support and supervision in order to reduce the dropout rate. Added to this, universities, like other organizations, are expected to keep up their efforts to reduce costs paid for out of the public purse.
A task force on university funding, chaired by Marcel Gilbert, was set up in December 1996. Its mandate is to examine the current rules for the government funding of universities. Its recommendations will be aimed at cutting costs, raising graduation rates, reducing the length of time students take to complete their studies, enriching the teaching and student supervision functions and stepping up the universities' involvement in research.
The task force will table its report on March 30, 1997.
The government is, in many ways, the moderator of society's expectations towards its universities, since it supervises some of their actions and provides them with funding. The expectations are reflected, implicitly, in the relevant legislation and funding rules. They need clarification, however, as does the overall relationship existing between the State and the universities.
A policy on university education will be drafted in the form of a social contract between the two parties. Initiated by the MEQ, this operation will be continued in collaboration with the universities, since partnership is, after all, its central purpose. The MEQ will call on the services of an independent advisory group made up of individuals from the university community and representatives from various sectors of society, particularly the socioeconomic sector and the college network.
A preliminary version of the policy will be submitted to university authorities for consultation in the summer of 1997. Its approval is scheduled for the fall of 1997.
PROVIDING BETTER ACCESS TO
The ongoing renewal of skills has become a basic requirement in our society, one that can no longer be met by an adult education sector designed to provide a second chance to those with little schooling. Accessibility and the coordination of actions in the continuing education field are two other areas of major concern.
The MEQ has begun work on a continuing education policy. It will be assisted by an advisory committee made up of resource persons from the continuing education field.
The policy will clarify MEQ orientations with respect to the provision of services and the distribution of roles among the various players in the continuing education field.
The draft policy is scheduled for completion in June 1997, and will be submitted to the MEQ's partners for consultation before its final approval.
As you can see, the reform of the education system is well under way.
Cooperation between the main partners involved in this reform is the key to its success. To ensure continued support for the reform at all levels, a follow-up committee will be established in February 1997. Chaired by the Minister of Education, it will give all participating partners the opportunity to provide input on relevant issues. The committee will make use of sector-based mechanisms, if needed.
Beyond the necessary cooperation of institutional partners, in order to effectively steer our education system in the new direction we have chosen, we must alsoand above allbe able to count on the commitment of students, the participation of parents, the support of the community and the drive and energy of all those who work in education.
With everyone's continued cooperation, effort and enthusiasm, we will successfully change the course of education in Québec.