Refugee children from Ukraine will not be able to attend English schools in Quebec
On what grounds are children from Ukraine forbidden to study in English in schools in Quebec? Why does the French Language Charter exception not work?
According to the language law Québec, children who come to the province from other countries must attend only public schools that teach in French. The Association du Québec, representing English schools, is asking the provincial government to consider allowing some Ukrainian children to attend English public schools on humanitarian grounds.
Association President Dan Lamoureux notes that the founders of the Québec Charter of the French Language, René Levesque and Camille Laurent, made sure to include a clause on the possibility of receiving an education in the English system for exceptional reasons.
"This is a prime example of the use of such a provision," he said in a statement.
But Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said last Tuesday that he is committed to integrating refugees into the French school system. His spokesman, Florent Tanlet, said the main goal of teaching refugees from Ukraine in French is for them to learn the language in which they will have to communicate one way or another in the province.
Tanlet also pointed out that the government has always supported refugee students with interpreters and other services. Reginald Fleury, an educational consultant with the Montreal School Services Centre, said the service center is currently implementing an accommodation protocol for families while it awaits information on how many Ukrainian students will arrive and where they will be staying. Fleury also advised Quebec schools to hold face-to-face meetings with parents to explain to them how the school system works in the province and how daily school life works. He said the students themselves would initially be paired with mentors tasked with helping refugee students settle into their new environment.
At the same time, Quebec Prime Minister François Legault said he was open to the idea of making an exception for Ukrainian refugees as a temporary solution.
"As you know, people who come to Quebec have to send their children to a French school, but in the interim, of course, we will accommodate them," he said.
Russell Koopman summed up that the decision, in any case, remains entirely in the hands of the Quebec government. But he insists that, for those students who already know a little English as a second language, it is quite reasonable, on humane grounds, to be taught in English schools.