THE ENGLISH-LANGUAGE CEGEP IN QUEBEC

Donald A. Burgess

Abstract


One fundamental component of Quebec's Quiet Revolution of the early 1960's was a program of educational reform. Although this cut across all aspects of the Quebec educational spectrum, from Catholic to Protestant, from English-language to French language, from kindergarten to university, it was essentially concerned with the French-language institutions. At the postsecondary level it was obvious that Francophones were operating under a severe educational handicap compared with Anglophones. For example, the Parent Report pointed out that there was an equal number of university places available to both English-speaking and French-speaking students, in spite of the fact that the French language population in Quebec was about four times greater than the English-speaking population. It was also apparent to some that, if the French language were to survive and the French-speaking population of Quebec were to take its rightful place in the modern technological society of the twentieth century, educational reform was urgently needed. On the other hand, there was on the French side a multiplicity of post-secondary institutions other than the universities offering a variety of courses and training, some terminal and a few leading to the university, all completely separate from the pattern on the English side. There were 110 classical colleges, 114 teacher training institutions and eleven institutes of technology. For some, the entry point was as early as Grade 8, but graduation from one of these institutions did not necessarily guarantee acceptance into a university.

On the English side, the system was less complex. After only eleven years of schooling, students could transfer directly to the university where, after a further four years of study, they would earn their first degrees; or, less commonly, they could stay in high school through Grade 12 and then take a three year degree. On the French side, the process took much longer and was regarded by many as unfair. It was difficult, almost impossible, to transfer from one system to the other. The educational system did nothing to bring the French and English "two solitudes" together.

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