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Quebec language reform aims at capping English CEGEP enrolment

Dawson College. Global News Files

Part of the province’s proposed legislation to enhance the French language in Quebec is aimed at capping the number of students at English CEGEPs.

The province is proposing to keep the proportion of students in English language CEGEPs at 17.5 per cent of the total population.

Bill 96 will also give priority to anglophone students.

“Collegiate learning establishments will have to give priority to those who … have received their primary and secondary education in English,” said Simon-Jolin Barrette, Quebec’s minister responsible for the French language.

“It’s so they can study in their language from their early education to university in the English network, if they want.”

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

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The province says enrolment for French CEGEPs has declined in the past decades and gone up in English colleges.

Officials believe this move could bridge the gap.

“It’s a good compromise,” said Quebec premier François Legault.

It also should even the playing field for anglophones struggling to get accepted in the English CEGEPs.

“Some French people, for example, they like to go to English college for example in order to have a better English. Maybe I should’ve done that,” Legault said.

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

Global News has reported English-speaking students with high averages are being refused from English CEGEPs.

One of those students is Anne Lagacé-Dowson’s daughter, who was not accepted into any of her English CEGEPs of choice, in spite of having a high grade average and having done all her education in English at the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).

“A bunch of English speaking kids who’ve gone through the immersion programs at the English boards are having their hearts broken at the end of a terrible school year,” Lagacé-Dowson said.

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“I don’t know what we’re going to do. I suspect that we’ll have to send her to a private CEGEP which is totally terrible from my point of view. I’m a big proponent of public schools.”

Kevin Contant-Holowatyj, a final year student at Dawson College and chairperson of the Dawson Student Union, says giving priority to English students makes sense.

“It’s an adequate solution to a problem the government created,” Contant-Holowatyj said.

Read more: Quebec provincial government considers capping spaces in English CEGEPs

However, he believes freedom of choice at the post-secondary level should prevail.

“I think the solution is letting students choose where they want to study,” Contant-Holowatyj said.

“A decline in studying in French CEGEPs doesn’t mean that the population is becoming purely anglophone and allophone, of course. I don’t see where they come to that conclusion.”

The bill is expected to go through a lengthy consultation process at the National Assembly before it becomes law.

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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