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Canada: unions step up to the plate on Quebec’s education future

Over 400 education professionals along with lecturers (sociologists, academics and trade unionists) from Quebec and France, discussed the big issues in education today at the two-day Grand Rendez-vous de l’Education (Education Summit) 2012 hosted by its affiliate, Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), on 21-22 February 2012 in Laval.

Keynote topics included the development of public-private partnerships in education and the need to enhance the status of the teaching profession.

Schools run along business lines

Education comes in different flavours in different regions of the world, but education policies are globalising under the influence of free market policies run by governments looking to cut government spending. Such budget cuts are designed to facilitate introducing public-private partnerships to our education systems.

The entrance of private capital into schools brings private sector thinking with it. Schools are increasingly run along business lines, bringing the concepts of performance, competitiveness, competition, and profitability to the fore.

Enhance the status of teaching

Teachers feel that they are losing ownership and control of their profession. This deep-seated profession-wide unease is what the Quebec teachers came together to discuss in different panels. The unions face the big task of trying to restore the profession’s status, not just in salary terms, but alsoits image. They need to use all forms of media,including social networks, to publicise the many educational success stories.

This cross-fertilisation of ideas, experiences and assessments was designed to enable CSQ to answer the key question: What education, schools, and teachers does Quebec need?

In summing up, EI representative Agnès Bréda was at pains to emphasise that, "Education must not be an economic instrument. The profession is not a group that teaches just anything; part of its job is to shape content.It is the only public institution where democratic values like human rights, tolerance, fairness, solidarity, etc., can be handed on. Teachers must regain confidence in their profession and themselves."

Read more about CSQ’s Grand Rendez-vous de l’Education 2012 (in French): http://rendez-vous2012.csq.qc.net

CSQ video interview with Agnès Bréda on "Improving the profession’s status" recorded at the Grand Rendez-vous de l’Education 2012 (in French):

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