Usher: Backlash on international students to fund our system

Nugget in Usher’s year-end summary:

The second take-away from this year is the backlash against using international students to fund our system.  This is mainly because the higher rents in communities bordering the institutions most active in this scene are (correctly, I think) seen as a tax on non-home-owners being imposed for the dubious privilege of having a college or university in the neighborhood.  I’ve heard via the grapevine (because of course no official data will be available for another 18 months) that international students now make up 45% of the student body in Ontario colleges. Everyone (and I mean everyone) knows the current path is madness, but no one wants to be the first to leave the race for all those easy, easy dollars. Saner minds will eventually prevail on international students – ones that will try to focus on improving the quality of international education rather than the MOAR MOAR MOAR of the last few years – and when that happens, everyone will wonder how we allowed things to get out control in the first place.


Canada leads the G7 for the most educated workforce, thanks to immigrants, young adults and a strong college sector, but is experiencing significant losses in apprenticeship certificate holders in key trades

From the last data release of the census, with evidence of mismatches between immigration skills and occcupation:

Canada continues to rank first in the G7 for the share of working-age people (aged 25 to 64) with a college or university credential (57.5%). A key factor in this is Canada’s strong college sector: nearly one in four working-age people (24.6%) had a college certificate or diploma or similar credential in 2021, more than in any other G7 country.

From 2016 to 2021, the working-age population saw an increase of nearly one-fifth (+19.1%) in the number of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher, including even larger rises in degree holders in the fields of health care (+24.1%) and computer and information science (+46.3%).

In contrast, the number of working-age apprenticeship certificate holders has stagnated or fallen in three major trades fields—construction trades (+0.6%), mechanic and repair technologies (-7.8%) and precision production (-10.0%)—as fewer young workers replace the baby boomers who are retiring. Job vacancies in some industries related to these trades, such as construction and fabricated metal product manufacturing, reached record highs in 2022.

Recent immigrants made up nearly half of the growth in the share of Canadians with a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, some immigrants’ talents remain underutilized, as over one-quarter of all immigrants with foreign degrees were working in jobs that require, at most, a high school diploma. This is twice as high as the overqualification rate for Canadian-born or Canadian-educated degree holders.

Even foreign-educated immigrants with credentials in high-demand areas such as health care faced high rates of job mismatch: 36.5% of immigrants with a foreign degree in registered nursing worked as registered nurses or in closely related occupations, and 41.1% of immigrants with foreign medical degrees worked as doctors. This compares with job match rates of approximately 9 in 10 for the population with Canadian nursing (87.4%) or medical (90.1%) degrees.

The share of Canadian-born young adults (aged 25 to 34) with a bachelor’s degree or higher is also rising (+2.7 percentage points from 2016 to 2021). The increase was larger among Canadian-born young women (+3.3 percentage points, reaching 39.7%) than Canadian-born young men (+2.2 percentage points, reaching 25.7%). Nonetheless, among young men the increase in this 5-year period from 2016 to 2021 was nearly as large as the increase during the 10-year period from 2006 to 2016 (+2.3 percentage points). 

Educational gaps faced by First Nations people, Métis and Inuit are narrowing at the high school level. In 2021, over half of Inuit aged 25 to 64 had completed high school, up from 45.4% in 2016. At the same time, gaps are widening at the level of a bachelor’s degree or higher for all Indigenous groups.

People with credentials above the bachelor level were better able to weather the labour market shocks of the pandemic, partly due to working in industries that were more suited to remote work. They had higher employment rates and earnings in 2021 than 2016, while those with most other levels of education saw lower employment rates.


Lau: Data clashes with claims of ‘white supremacy’ in standardized testing

While Lau is trying to be too cute in his commentary, the data undermines claims of white supremacy:

If I get a speeding ticket for exceeding the speed limit by 50 kilometres per hour in a residential zone, I plan to inform the police officer that the institution of policing, the radar guns, and even the posted speed limit are all manifestations of white supremacy. That’s sure to have the ticket withdrawn.

I take my cues from a handful of those in the esteemed social class of public educators. Some context: earlier this fall, the Education Quality and Accountability Office, which is arms-length of the Government of Ontario, released the latest standardized test results. As they have over the past decade, reading and writing scores fluctuated, but math scores continued their steady downward march.

In 2021-22, only 59 per cent of Grade Three students met provincial standards in mathematics, down from 60 per cent in 2018-19 and 67 per cent in 2012-13. Among Grade Six students, only 47 per cent met provincial standards in mathematics, down from 50 per cent in 2018-19 and 57 per cent in 2012-13.

Perhaps in anticipation of such dismal results, in the weeks ahead of the EQAO results release, the Toronto District School Board launched what might be seen as a series of pre-emptive strikes, giving presentations denouncing standardized testing as an example of “white supremacy in K-12 mathematics education.”

A member of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario’s executive staff, with similar ideas in mind, wrote in the union’s magazine that standardized testing is “biased towards upper-middle class white test-takers” and suggested that “EQAO tests are culturally and racially biased, promoting a Eurocentric curriculum and way of life that privileges white students.”

That administering standardized tests to measure student achievement is a manifestation of white supremacy is an interesting claim, but a little dubious. In the first place, if white racists are trying to use standardized testing to promote the idea that the white race is somehow superior to others, they’re doing a rather poor job. Students from many different racial backgrounds outperform white students (on average) on these tests.

The Peel District School Board reported last year, for example, that a higher proportion of students from East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern and multiple racial backgrounds reached the provincial standards in Grade Three mathematics than white students. Data in previous years and from other school boards, such as Toronto and Grand Erie, also show Asian students on average significantly outperforming white students in EQAO mathematics tests.

Survey data cast further doubt on the theory that standardized tests are tainted by white supremacy. In January a poll (conducted by Leger and published by the Fraser Institute) found 84 per cent of parents of children in K-12 schools supported having their children write standardized tests, including 92 per cent of immigrant parents. Unless we’re prepared to conclude that 84 per cent of Canadians and an even higher proportion of immigrants support white racist activities, we may have to conclude the tests are not racist.

On second thought, if I am pulled over for speeding, it may not help to inform the police officer that the resulting ticket is a manifestation of white supremacy. More likely, the police officer would regard me as an idiot. Similarly, reasonable people might regard as inordinately dumb the idea that standardized testing has anything to do with white supremacy.

Matthew Lau is an adjunct scholar with the Fraser Institute.

Source: LAU: Data clashes with claims of ‘white supremacy’ in standardized testing

Korea: Only 4 out of 10 multicultural children go to college [compared to 7 out of 10]

About 43.9 percent of children from multicultural families were young adults in 2021, according to a study conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. The figure has increased by 8.3 percent from the previous survey in 2018, which stood at 35.6 percent.

Meanwhile, only 40.5 percent of children from multicultural families were admitted to colleges. The number is significantly lower than the college entrance rate of the overall population, which was 71.5 percent.

In addition, children’s satisfaction level with family relationships has deteriorated. The percentage of multicultural children who answered they do not talk to their father at all increased from 7 percent in 2015, to 8.6 percent in 2018, and 10.5 percent in 2021. With their mothers, the tally also increased from 3.4 percent to 10.5 percent to 11.9 percent in the same period. (Yonhap)

Source: [Graphic News] Only 4 out of 10 multicultural children go to college

USA: From slavery to socialism, new legislation restricts what teachers can discuss

Age of ignorance?

Across the U.S., educators are being censored for broaching controversial topics. Since January 2021, researcher Jeffrey Sachs says, 35 states have introduced 137 bills limiting what schools can teach with regard to race, American history, politics, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sachs has been tracking this legislation for PEN America, a writers organization dedicated to free speech. He says the recent flurry of legislation has created a “minefield” for educators trying to figure out how to teach topics such as slavery, Jim Crow laws or the Holocaust. One proposed law in South Carolina, for instance, prohibits teachers from discussing any topic that creates “discomfort, guilt or anguish” on the basis of political belief.

“That means that a teacher would have to be very, very careful about how they discuss something like, let’s say, fascism or racism or antisemitism,” Sachs says. “These are political beliefs, and it means that teachers are going to have to second-guess whether they can describe that political belief in as forthright and honest a way as we wish for fear of falling afoul of this bill.”

Critical race theory, an academic approach that examines how race and racism function in American institutions, has inspired a backlash in conservative circles across the United States. In one of his first acts in office, Glenn Youngkin, the Republican governor of Virginia, established a hotline to allow parents or members of the community to report critical race theory in the classroom. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, a conservative mom’s group is offering a $500 bounty to catch teachers who break a state law prohibiting certain teachings about racism and sexism.

“I think it must be a very terrifying time to be an educator at any level in higher ed or in K-12,” Sachs says.

“You have, unfortunately, the kinds of daily stressors that we’ve all become used to because of COVID,” he says. “And now on top of that, these educators are trying to negotiate outraged parents and media pundits. … When you listen to what educators are saying, they’re burned out, and many of them, I think, will head for the exits.”

Interview highlights

On how some of the proposed bills would be impossible to comply with

Some of the bills — I would say many now — include a provision that says something to the effect of: Teachers cannot be compelled to discuss a controversial contemporary issue, but if they do, they must do so evenhandedly and without any kind of favoritism. However, many of those same bills also would require teachers to denounce, in the strongest possible terms, ideas like Marxism or socialism.

For instance, a bill in Indiana that is currently under consideration would require, among other things, that in the run-up to any general election in the state, students must be taught “socialism, Marxism, communism, totalitarianism or similar political systems are incompatible with and in conflict with the principles of freedom upon which the United States was founded.” And it goes on to say as such, “socialism, Marxism, communism, totalitarianism or similar political systems are detrimental to the people of the United States.”

The issue there, among many others, is that it’s a bill requiring students to be exposed to this litany of claims about different ideologies. And it also requires that in doing so, teachers cannot show favoritism or bias in any one direction. In other words, it’s a bill that can’t possibly actually work. Teachers are being pulled in two different directions, and the consequence is going to be a kind of self-censorship.

Another Indiana bill … prohibits teachers from including in their class any “anti-American ideologies.” Now that term is never defined, and again, it’s not that teachers can’t endorse or promote anti-American ideologies — they’re just simply forbidden from even discussing them.

On bills that address sexuality, gender and LGBTQ issues

It differs bill to bill. But again, many do include language prohibiting teachers from discussing concepts like gender fluidity. It prohibits them from discussing “nontraditional gender identities” and in many cases forbid[s] teachers from discussing controversial events that would presumably include, in many cases, ones like gay marriage or LGBTQ rights.

We see as well many bills requiring teachers to report to parents if their children are asking questions about their gender identity, and in many cases as well — for instance, in a Florida bill — that prohibit teachers from “encouraging any conversation about sex and sexuality.”

So it really puts teachers in an impossible situation. In a contemporary high school or middle school, even earlier in elementary school, these sorts of topics arise. And in particular, it would put LGBTQ teachers in a really difficult situation where they’re forced, essentially, to disguise their identity or the status of their relationships in order to fend off running afoul of these bills.

On how these laws are similar to what’s going on in authoritarian countries

It often gets dismissively described as “woke ideas,” and more broadly, I think we would just describe these ideas that we’re talking about as socially liberal ideas. And unfortunately, what we’re seeing is in countries like Russia, China, in Turkey, in Hungary, we are seeing these regimes targeting educational institutions and other sites of cultural production like museums or the media, [as] an attempt to drive these ideas out — to signal that to be a “real” Russian or to be a “true” Hungarian, one must be straight, one must be socially conservative. These efforts underway in these regimes, that are either authoritarian or unfortunately trending in that direction, all signal the kind of political energy that leaders believe they can get by attacking these ideas.

On a new law that addresses the concept of systemic racism

There’s a law currently on the books in North Dakota that was passed last November after just five days of consideration that has me up at night. This is a law that attempts to prohibit critical race theory in K-12 schools, and I just want to reemphasize here this is not a law that prohibits people from endorsing or promoting critical race theory. It’s a law that forbids them from even including critical race theory in the classroom. And the way that that law defines critical race theory is what has me so concerned: … “critical race theory, which is defined as the theory that racism is not merely the product of learned individual bias or prejudice, but that racism is systemically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality.” In other words, the law now is saying that whenever a teacher talks about racism, they may only describe it as a product of an individual’s own biases or prejudices. They cannot describe it — even when the facts command them to — as something more endemic or embedded within American society. It’s a way essentially of preventing teachers, I think, from being honest about a lot of the uglier sides of American history and contemporary society.

Whenever you discuss slavery, your teacher would have to essentially say, “These slaveholders were racist.” The system that they were in, the laws that supported them, the economy that made that business profitable, you’d have to separate those institutional features and describe slavery purely as a product of individual bias, which does violence to the topic. It fails to educate students, and I think might discourage students from thinking critically about contemporary institutions and identifying whether or not they also might be guilty of systemic racism.

On how the idea for these restrictive teaching bills first came about

The origins here … go back to that summer of 2020. There’s a researcher there named Christopher Rufo, who was then with the Discovery Institute in Seattle. This is in a conservative educational institute centered around the promotion of intelligent design. And Christopher Rufo wrote a series of articles for an online website called City Journal. And in his City Journal articles, he detailed what he described as indoctrination in K-12 schools or in employee training programs in businesses or state agencies, programs that he said were training people to become critical race theorists.

Those articles caught the attention of Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, and Rufo appeared on his program in early September of 2020. The very next day, he received a phone call from Mark Meadows, then chief of staff for the Trump administration. Apparently, Trump had watched the program that evening. He’d seen what Rufo had to say, and within a matter of days, Rufo was in conversation with the Trump administration on some sort of legislative or executive response. The product of that conversation was Trump’s executive order in late September, where he prohibited any state agency from discussing certain ideas as part of employee training or [training for] a state contractor that wishes to do business with the federal government.

Source: From slavery to socialism, new legislation restricts what teachers can discuss

Document suggesting students learn positive aspects of Nazi Germany deleted by Alberta education officials

Striking that the document dates from 1984 with multiple revisions without anyone noticing or taking action:

A document that suggested Alberta students learn about the positive aspects of Nazi Germany has been deleted from the Ministry of Education’s website, following criticism from multiple groups.

The document, a set of guidelines for “recognizing diversity and promoting respect,” suggested considering whether a given educational resource addressed “both the positive and negative behaviours” of various groups.

“For instance,” it read, “if a video details war atrocities committed by the Nazis, does it also point out that before World War II, German government’s policies substantially strengthened the country’s economy?”

Source: Document suggesting students learn positive aspects of Nazi Germany deleted by Alberta education officials

«Malaise» autour du nouveau cours de citoyenneté

Of note, and not entirely unexpected:

Le processus de mise en place du nouveau cours Culture et citoyenneté québécoise provoque un « malaise » parmi les experts et les enseignants mandatés pour créer le programme, qui se sentent « instrumentalisés » à des fins politiques par le gouvernement Legault.

Selon ce que Le Devoir a appris, deux des cinq membres du comité de rédaction du programme ont démissionné au cours des dernières semaines. Des experts d’un autre comité, chargé celui-là de « valider » le contenu, envisagent de démissionner à leur tour devant la tournure jugée « partisane » de l’implantation du cours.

La fonctionnaire du ministère de l’Éducation qui était responsable du programme, Marie-Noëlle Corriveau-Tendland, a remis sa démission en mai dernier. Elle estime que la fonction publique « n’est plus un rempart administratif contre les interventions politiques ».

« Je sentais que pour satisfaire un ministre, on devait modifier le contenu d’un programme d’études. Ça m’a heurtée dans mes valeurs. Quand je suis allée au ministère, j’allais travailler pour l’État et non pas pour le gouvernement », dit Marie-Noëlle Corriveau-Tendland au Devoir.

Elle considère « normal » qu’un ministre cherche à influencer le processus menant à la révision d’un programme. Après tout, il a été élu pour gouverner. La machine administrative doit cependant s’assurer de respecter les façons de procéder afin de « dépolitiser la pédagogie ».

« Les experts trouvent bizarre qu’il y ait des annonces de faites avant même la fin des validations normales du programme », dit l’ex-fonctionnaire, devenue conseillère pédagogique dans un cégep.

Le nouveau programme remplacera le cours Éthique et culture religieuse (ECR), créé en 2008 dans la foulée de la déconfessionnalisation des écoles. Le cours remanié réduit la place des religions et accorde davantage d’importance à la citoyenneté, à la culture ainsi qu’à la laïcité, thème central de l’action gouvernementale depuis l’arrivée au pouvoir de la Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), en 2018.

Un engagement politique

L’annonce de ce nouveau programme, dimanche, avait des allures d’événement préélectoral. Trois personnalités (Dany Turcotte, Pierre Curzi et Ingrid Falaise) sont venues vanter les vertus du cours amélioré. Dans une vidéo diffusée lors de la conférence de presse, huit ministres et le premier ministre défilent à l’écran pour expliquer que ce programme contribuera à un « Québec fier ».

« On se sent en pleine campagne électorale », déplore une source bien informée des tractations entourant la naissance du cours. Cette personne a demandé à garder l’anonymat par crainte de représailles.

« On parle ici d’un simple cours offert au primaire et au secondaire, mais le gouvernement nous décrit quasiment comme les sauveurs de la société québécoise », lance une autre source qui n’est pas autorisée à parler publiquement.

Le ministre de l’Éducation, Jean-François Roberge, se défend de faire de la politique sur le dos des élèves. « La refonte du cours d’ECR était un engagement de notre gouvernement. Il était normal d’en faire l’annonce. En aucun temps il n’est question de politiser l’enseignement des élèves », indique Jean-François Del Torchio, attaché de presse du ministre.

« Les thèmes qui seront abordés lors de ce programme ne sont aucunement politiques, mais bien des thèmes qui reflètent la réalité quotidienne des élèves, comme les institutions démocratiques, le système judiciaire, l’environnement, l’éducation à la sexualité, la culture, etc. », ajoute-t-il.

« Déjà depuis dimanche, plusieurs enseignants nous ont contactés pour participer à l’élaboration du cours. Ils veulent contribuer », précise le représentant du ministre.

Cap sur les élections

De vastes consultations du milieu de l’éducation ont bel et bien eu lieu à partir de janvier 2020, mais le ministre Roberge a écarté à ce jour les opinions contraires à son projet, indique Marie-Noëlle Corriveau-Tendland.

En privé, des experts et des enseignants disent constater eux aussi que le gouvernement Legault cherche à mettre en avant sa vision politique de la nation québécoise. Cette vision n’est pas nécessairement mauvaise, selon nos sources. Certaines personnes y sont favorables, mais le réseau scolaire doit s’élever au-dessus de la mêlée pour produire un programme pédagogique exempt de partisanerie, souligne-t-on.

Une autre membre du comité de rédaction du nouveau cours, enseignante au secondaire, a récemment remis sa démission. Il ne reste ainsi que trois des cinq membres originaux du groupe chargé de pondre la nouvelle version du programme.

Selon nos informations, des membres du comité de validation — l’étape suivant la rédaction — s’interrogent à leur tour sur la suite de leur engagement. Ce groupe d’une quinzaine d’experts ne s’est réuni qu’une seule fois, en juin dernier. Il n’a eu accès qu’à un résumé de quatre pages du projet de programme.

L’identité des membres de ce groupe est tenue secrète. Tous ont dû signer une entente de confidentialité. La prochaine réunion du comité est prévue pour vendredi. Le cours Culture et citoyenneté québécoise doit encore être peaufiné avant son entrée en vigueur à la rentrée 2023, a expliqué le ministre Roberge. Des projets pilotes doivent avoir lieu à la rentrée 2022.

Mélanie Dubois, chargée de cours en formation des enseignants à l’Université du Québec à Montréal, a l’impression que le gouvernement veut accélérer la mise en place du nouveau programme avant les élections prévues dans un an, en octobre 2022. Elle trouve aussi « décevant » qu’aucun enseignant n’ait été invité à l’annonce du programme par le ministre, dimanche.


Roberge dévoile les bases du nouveau cours «Culture et citoyenneté québécoise»

Of note, likely the next series of debates (Bill 21 and 96 would be good places to highlight issues):

La culture, la citoyenneté québécoise et le développement de la pensée critique formeront les « trois axes » du nouveau cours appelé à remplacer celui d’Éthique et culture religieuse (ECR). Le ministre de l’Éducation, Jean-François Roberge, a dévoilé dimanche « les thèmes » qui seront enseignés dans toutes les écoles primaires et secondaires du Québec à partir de la rentrée 2023.

Le premier volet permettra aux élèves de comprendre la culture « des sociétés » avec un accent prononcé pour celle d’ici, a expliqué le ministre en conférence de presse.

L’« objectif du cours » se trouve dans le deuxième axe. « La visée, c’est de préparer nos jeunes à l’exercice de la citoyenneté québécoise. Nos valeurs et les principes qui sont les fondements de notre société seront présentés aux élèves », a expliqué Jean-François Roberge en citant le respect, la liberté d’expression, la liberté de conscience, les droits, les libertés et les responsabilités de chacun. Il sera aussi question d’éducation aux médias et d’éducation sexuelle.

« Le dialogue, la pensée critique et l’éthique » composent la troisième orientation du nouveau cours. Les élèves seront notamment amenés à se questionner et à aborder des dilemmes moraux. « Cette approche fera obstacle aux censeurs et à tous ceux qui s’attaquent à la liberté d’expression », a déclaré le ministre Roberge.

Il a insisté à plusieurs reprises pour dire que le cours d’ECR était « vicié à la base » et « reposait sur un dogme qui est une erreur », soit que la religion est l’unique « lunette à travers on regarde la personne ». L’analyse des identités religieuses demeurera au programme, mais perdra son aspect « prépondérant ». « On peut ne plus tolérer ce genre des biais dans nos écoles. »

Le nouveau programme n’ira pas dans la « redondance », mais dans la « complémentarité » par rapport au reste des matières, a par ailleurs mentionné M. Roberge.

La rédaction du programme est déjà « bien amorcée », a-t-il affirmé. Le ministère officialisera le contenu au printemps 2022. La matière sera testée à partir de l’automne 2022 avec « des enseignants qui [lèveront] la main » ou « des équipes-écoles qui [lèveront] la main ». Des « ajustements » suivront au cours de l’année scolaire afin de pouvoir étendre ce nouveau cours à toutes les écoles primaires et secondaires du Québec à l’automne 2023.

Le cours d’ECR, 2008-2023

Le nouveau cours de « Culture et citoyenneté québécoise » ressemble au cours d’ECR avec un « vernis national », juge Georges Leroux, professeur émérite à l’UQAM et corédacteur du programme désavoué par le ministre. « La grande question, c’est quel est véritablement le changement qui va séparer le nouveau programme de l’ancien ? À part la promotion nationale, tous les thèmes qui sont abordés en éthique sont abordés dans le programme actuel. »

À cela le ministre répond que « quelqu’un qui compare les deux cours verrait à la fin que la compétence de l’éthique et du dialogue reviennent, mais dans une perspective différente. L’ancien cours d’ECR amenait le débat et l’éthique, mais empêchait parfois la remise en question de certains dogmes. Je ne veux pas répéter cette erreur-là dans le nouveau cours. »

Avant l’arrivée de ce cours d’ECR en 2008, « on était dans un enseignement confessionnel qui sortait du XVIIe siècle », rappelle Benoit Mercier, un autre des concepteurs de l’ancien programme. Les jeunes Québécois devaient alors suivre soit un cours de morale, soit un cours de catéchèse.

Les deux spécialistes doutent surtout des consultations qui ont mené à cette nouvelle version. Plus de trois ans de discussions et d’analyses avaient été nécessaires pour accoucher du cours d’ECR. À la fin ce processus, « tous les syndicats étaient d’accord, toutes les universités, les collèges et leurs représentants étaient d’accord. […] Tout le monde était d’accord », se remémore Benoit Mercier.

Accueil mitigé

Le cours de culture et citoyenneté québécoise découle d’un processus entamé en 2020. Une consultation publique en ligne, deux consultations en personnes — à Québec et à Montréal —, des rencontres virtuelles avec les communautés autochtones et l’étude de quelque 200 mémoires ont mené à l’annonce de dimanche, a précisé Jean-Bernard Émond, adjoint parlementaire à l’Éducation.

Plusieurs se réjouissent de la fin du cours d’ECR, vu par certains comme une promotion du multiculturalisme. Le député du Parti québécois dans Matane-Matapédia, Pascal Bérubé, considère le remplacement du cours comme une « victoire » pour sa formation politique, puisque « le ministre de l’Éducation ne voulait pas l’abolir, car il l’avait enseigné ».

Le cours d’ECR « va passer à l’histoire comme une aberration », selon le président du Mouvement laïque québécois, Daniel Baril, qui s’enthousiasme de la fin du « tout à la religion ». Selon lui, « dans une société polarisée, c’est la culture québécoise qui est le pôle d’inclusion ».

D’autres accueillent l’annonce avec scepticisme. Le vice-président de la Fédération nationale des enseignants du Québec, affiliée à la CSN, se questionne sur le temps alloué de deux heures par cycle. « Il y a une espèce de fourre-tout, de divers thèmes. On se demande comment ce sera possible de faire passer l’ensemble de ces éléments avec seulement deux heures par cycle », a commenté Léandre Lapointe, qui espère que la formation pour les enseignants promise par le ministre sera adéquate.

La présidente intérimaire de l’Association québécoise en éthique et culture religieuse, Line Dubé, reste aussi perplexe devant ce nouveau cours. « Pour des pédagogues, des enseignants, des didacticiens, ça ressemble encore à un gros Jello, pas encore “pogné”. On attend encore la couleur réelle de ce à quoi on nous engage rapidement. »


English version:

A new course intended to replace Quebec’s polarizing, long-standing ethics and religious culture curriculum will teach students how to be proud members of Quebec society, the province’s Education Minister said Sunday.

Jean-François Roberge held a news conference to unveil details of the new course, dubbed Culture and Citizenship in Quebec. He was joined by Isabelle Charest, the minister responsible for women, as well as various key players from Quebec’s cultural scene.

“You know Quebec is different from the rest of North America,” Roberge said. “We are not New York, Vermont, Ontario or New Brunswick. We have a Quebec way of life. We have our artists, Francophone and Anglophone, our cultural legacy. We are not ashamed to share this culture with our kids.”

The new class is intended to replace a course on ethics and religious culture that’s been taught in the province’s schools since 2008.

Roberge said the new curriculum was built around three main themes. The first will explore diverse cultures with an emphasis on Quebec. The citizenship plank of the program will teach the province’s values and responsibilities, while content intended to teach ethics is also meant to develop students’ critical thinking skills.

Roberge said the class aims to provide “national cohesion” as well as fight against sexism, racism and sexual violence. He also positioned the revamped curriculum as an “obstacle to censorship.”

The current program has faced years of relentless criticism from Quebec nationalists and committed secularists for allegedly putting too much emphasis on multiculturalism and diversity.

Roberge, however, cited different grounds for objection when critiquing the present-day course.

He said the ethics and religious culture class is not offering enough space for students to ask critical questions.

“We need to be able to discuss and debate everything respectfully,” Roberge said. “It cannot be a taboo and censorship class, it needs to be a course on freedom of expression and learning about personal relationships.”

The provincial government had announced plans to abolish the course last year following criticisms that too much time was being taken up by a section devoted to religions.

Roberge said religion will not be completely erased from the new program, but will not be the primary focus anymore.

“Of course, when you talk about culture you will have to talk about religious culture, but it’s not the only way,” he said. “… We have to modernize our program.”

Caroline Quesnel, president of provincial teachers’ union Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec, offered a different but equally critical take on the current program. She asserted the present curriculum does not present enough nuance when teaching students about religions around the world, citing lack of discussions around gender equality in certain faiths.

She also said the program does not address issues related to Indigenous peoples, calling the approach “quite limited.”

Roberge said the new course will teach residents how to navigate Quebec society and take pride in their province. It will include sections on the province’s judicial system, critical thinking, social media and sex education among others, he added.

Charest said not a week goes by in the province without reports of unacceptable behaviours, such as domestic violence which disproportionately affects women and girls. She hopes the new course offering will help tackle those issues.

“Students will be invited to reflect on notions of consent, respect, self-affirmation, empathy and equal relationships between men and women,” Charest said.

The new program will be introduced in some schools as a pilot project in September 2022 before being fully implemented across all of the province’s elementary and high schools a year later.

Quesnel, however, said the curriculum’s ambitious scope risks trying to cover too many topics at once.

“Freedom of speech, democratic institutions, sex education, technology, Indigenous Peoples, the environment …,” Quesnel said. “None will really be covered properly.”

She said Sunday’s announcement looked like a “show” in which the province attempted to sell the new program, but noted that not a single teacher was present at the news conference.

“I feel like the government is kind of using this curriculum to position itself as the guardian of Quebec values and impose its vision,” Quesnel said.

She also said teachers are worried about how many hours will be allocated for the course, and if they will receive proper training beforehand.

“Teachers are used to multitasking, but when we are talking about all these topics, they are quite specific,” Quesnel said. “It’s not only about writing a good manual and teachers will follow. It really needs more training than that.”

Source: Quebec unveils new ethics and culture class

Why social mobility is key to explaining attitudes toward multiculturalism – EUROPP

Interesting that applies to both upward and downward mobility:

What explains attitudes toward multiculturalism in Europe? And how do citizens without a migration background react when the cities they live in become more diverse? Drawing on a new study, Lisa-Marie Kraus and Stijn Daenekindt show that social mobility is a key factor in determining why some people are more optimistic about multiculturalism than others.

People without a migration background have become a numerical minority in numerous Western European cities such as London, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Vienna. Looking at the generation of children aged 15 and younger, these numbers are increasing, indicating that this is a lasting phenomenon.

These evolutions generate various challenges. One important aspect in this regard is how people without a migration background experience their changing status and, more generally, how this influences their attitudes towards multiculturalism. Some people may respond optimistically towards living in such multicultural societies: they may support ethnic diversity, embrace the idea of a multi-ethnic city and consider it as part of everyday life. Other people are rather pessimistic: they may insist on maintaining their ‘own’ culture and reject other cultural influences. How can we understand the variation in these attitudes among people without a migration background?

Inspired by numerous studies which have demonstrated the link between educational attainment and attitudes towards ethnic diversity, we hypothesised that we can find a partial answer to this question by focusing on educational social mobility. Educationally socially mobile people either hold a higher (upward mobility) or lower (downward mobility) educational qualification than their parents.

Previous research has shown that the experience of educational social mobility is an influential factor in various domains of social life and highlights the consequences of social mobility. In particular, downward mobility has been connected to feelings of frustration, depression and failure as it entails a drop in social status. Yet, even if upward mobility entails increased social status, it can also come with negative consequences.

This is because both upward and downward mobility ultimately puts individuals in a different social environment from the one they were raised in. Hence, the socially mobile are exposed to ‘alien’ lifestyles, perspectives, attitudes and habits. Because of this, socially mobile individuals may neither feel genuinely at home in the social environment in which they were raised, nor in the one in which they end up. We believe that this experience of different contexts is related to the multicultural attitudes of the socially mobile.

To investigate the role of social mobility in the formation of multicultural attitudes, we used data from people without a migration background who live in five highly ethnically diverse Western European cities: Amsterdam, Antwerp, Malmo, Rotterdam and Vienna. Our analyses show that the experience of social mobility is related to more optimistic multicultural attitudes.

Socially mobile individuals have a more positive outlook on multicultural societies than their immobile counterparts. Both upwardly and downwardly mobile individuals demonstrate greater openness to multiculturalism. While the experience of social mobility, and in particular downward mobility, has generally been associated with rather negative inter-ethnic attitudes, our study finds no evidence for this. On the contrary, both upwardly and downwardly mobile people are more open to multiculturalism than their immobile peers.

What explains this finding? We believe that the experience of social mobility allows people to adapt more easily to ethnically diverse social contexts. The socially mobile have encountered different social environments throughout their lives. This experience involves the adaption to, and navigation of, lifestyles typical of different social environments. The exposure to different social environments may lead to a general ability to adapt to different contexts and moving between these environments may make the navigation of different contexts a ‘habit’. Mobile individuals have, so to speak, embodied the ability to adapt to diversity and this is reflected in their attitudes towards multi-ethnic cities.

Our findings provide insights into the way attitudes towards multiculturalism are developed in general. They suggest that if policymakers wish to stimulate support for multiculturalism among those without a migration background, they might achieve this through policies which focus on other forms of diversity, such as the desegregation of neighbourhoods and schools along the lines of social class.

Source: Why social mobility is key to explaining attitudes toward multiculturalism – EUROPP

Taliban vows to purge education system of anything ‘against Islam’ as Afghan folk singer shot dead

No surprise:

The Taliban is planning to purge Afghanistan’s education system of all elements that are “against Islam”, according to an official, as activists and campaigners warn of a return to authoritarian rule in the country.

Speaking on Sunday, interim higher education minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani criticised the current education system that was founded by the international community, claiming that it had failed to adhere to religious principles.

“[The] world tried to take religion out of scientific education, which harmed the people,” Mr Haqqani said.

He added that “every item against Islam in the educational system will be removed”.

Mr Haqqani’s comments came as reports of the killing of an Afghan folk singer in a mountain province raised fresh concerns about the threat to human rights in the country as the Taliban works to form a new government.

The family of Fawad Andarabi said he was shot dead by a Taliban fighter in the Andarabi Valley (after which he was named), an area of Baghlan province some 100km (60 miles) north of Kabul.

“He was innocent, a singer who only was entertaining people,” his son said. “They shot him in the head on the farm.”

Mr Andarabi played a bowed lute, known as a ghichak, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace, his people and Afghanistan as a whole.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, told reporters that the insurgent group would investigate the incident, but he could not provide any details on it.

In response to the killing, Amnesty International secretary-general Agnes Callamard said: “There is mounting evidence that the Taliban of 2021 is the same as the intolerant, violent, repressive Taliban of 2001.

“20 years later, nothing has changed on that front.”

Although the Taliban has claimed that it will lead a more moderate government in Afghanistan, many fear that women and religious minorities will once again face severe restrictions and oppression under the group’s rule.

On Sunday, former officials and lecturers at Afghan universities called on the insurgent group to maintain and upgrade the country’s education system instead of dismantling it.

Former minister of higher education Abas Basir told a conference on higher education, held by the Taliban, that starting over would be repeating a mistake made by previous governments.

“Let’s not reject everything, starting a new system: we should work more on what we already have,” Mr Basir said.

Mr Mujahid has said that a full cabinet for the new Taliban government will be announced in the coming days, with governors and police chiefs already appointed in all but one of the country’s 34 provinces.

The insurgent group is appealing to the US and other western nations to maintain diplomatic relations after the withdrawal of foreign troops is complete.

However, the UK has warned that relations will only be maintained if the new government respects human rights and allows safe passage for those who want to leave Afghanistan.

Source: Taliban vows to purge education system of anything ‘against Islam’ as Afghan folk singer shot dead