Why should the dispositions of Act 95 and the Ethics and religious culture course concern all parent-educators (christian or not)?
Act 95 is the Act to amend various legislative provisions respecting education as regards confessional matters. It was adopted in June 2005 and became fully effective on July 1, 2008.
Article 13 of Act 95 modifies the Québec Charter of Rights and Freedoms (L.R.Q., chapitre C-12):
Note: The link to Act 95 in English not being available, part of the following is our translation.
13. Article 41 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is replaced by the following article:
“41. Parents or the persons acting in their stead have a right to give their children a religious and moral education in keeping with their convictions and with proper regard for their children’s rights and interests.”
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What was stated in the previous Article 41 (now repealed) of the Québec Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
The following is our translation because the former text is no longer available.
“41. Parents or the persons acting in their stead have the right to require that, in public instruction establishments, their children are provided with religious or moral instruction in accordance with their
convictions, within the framework as provided for by law.”
What does “…with proper regard for their children’s rights and interests” mean?
The new text, contrary to the previous one, exceeds the institutional context (i.e., teaching establishments) to include Québec society as a whole.
Consequently, it would be possible to invoke this article of the Charter to impose the new Ethics and Religious Culture course upon homeschooling families, by justifying that it is in the interests of their children and with respect for their rights. This Charter is supported by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:
Article 14(1): State Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
What thought, what conscience and what religion? Those passed on by the parents or those inculcated by a program sanctioned by the State?
As a homeschooling parent, why should I be concerned?
If you do not want to see the government impose upon you a particular program of study for your children’s education, this situation should be of concern. Act 95 clearly implies that the government knows more than the parents what is best for children’s education.
Does this mean that we are against the idea of exposing our children to other values and beliefs?
NO! Absolutely not! With so many issues covered by media, it would be difficult for us not to address these with our children. However, we are against the idea that a government impose upon us any type of program, especially one which imposes its own perspective; a program that relativizes values and beliefs is not neutral.
Why would the government want to impose the Ethics and Religious Culture course?
First of all, this course will inculcate tolerance towards other religions and beliefs, and possibly towards alternative life-styles. We can also add that it is a way of creating a “cognitive imbalance” in children; in educational jargon, this term simply means “to sow seeds of doubt” in their minds with regards to values and beliefs already held (in this case, those transmitted by the parents).
This course is in effect in all Québec schools (private and public) since July 1st, 2008, at all elementary and secondary levels (10 years), except for Grade 9.
Why not simply accept this course and do what we want with it?
If we give education authorities the right to interfere this way in our children’s education, how far will it go?
For parents whose children are in the public school system and who oppose the Ethics and Religious Culture course, what is their interest?
These parents do not want to see the Ethics and Religious Culture course imposed upon them where, up until now, they have had the choice to opt for Catholic or Protestant Moral and Religious Education, or Moral Education. They believe that, as parents, they are the ones primarily responsible for their children’s education and they should have the possibility of choosing from among different options for this type of course offered in school.
(Unfortunately, the link was not working recently.)
Québec Charter of Rights and Freedoms
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Ethics and Religious Culture Course
- Overview available in English: http://www.learnquebec.ca/export/sites/learn/en/content/curriculum/personal_dev/documents/fiche_ethique_cult_reli_a.pdf
- 16-page summary in English: http://www.learnquebec.ca/export/sites/learn/en/content/curriculum/personal_dev/documents/prog_ethique_cult_reli_a.pdf
- Full course content in French: http://www.mels.gouv.qc.ca/sections/ecr/
(Reproduced by permission from HSLDA)
Blog with a number of interesting articles on education
(in French) :
Coalition pour la liberté en éducation :
(Coalition for Freedom in Education – some articles in English)