When a family relocates, one of their priorities is that their children's education not suffer for it. In Quebec, we have an excellent education system. However, its organization will likely be unfamiliar and seem a bit daunting to the outsider. Here is a outline of the education system and options for your child.
THE QUEBEC EDUCATION SYSTEM
In Quebec, a child's education is marked by four stages: primary (including kindergarten,) secondary, junior college (CEGEP) and university. In order to enrol in kindergarten a child must be five years old as of September 30 of that year.
When coming from abroad it is sometimes impossible to arrive in Montreal for the start of the school year. Most schools will accept a late arrival but it is not uncommon for children to sometimes have to repeat the grade they just completed in their home country in order to begin the following year in sync with the new curriculum.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SCHOOL?
While the choice of school for your child is highly personal, there are a few big decisions that have to be made: public or private? English or French? In Quebec, all schools must adhere to the Quebec curriculum as established by the Ministry of Education. Your choice therefore, rests largely on factors such as cost, preference, location and convenience.
PUBLIC OR PRIVATE?
You can choose to enrol your child in a public or private school. Private schools accept children from across the island. No transportation service is provided. Enrolment is usually very competitive and there are often wait lists. Many parents send their children to public schools while waiting for a spot in a private school to become available. Tuition at private schools run from $12,000 to approximately $18,000 per year. These are among the lowest tuition rates in the country. As many private schools offer the International Baccalaureate program, many children of foreign temporary workers choose private school to ensure a certain amount of continuity in their child's curriculum should they be posted abroad again. There a co-ed private schools, single sex schools and boarding schools. Here is a map of all the private schools in Montreal:
Public primary schools each have a district from which they must register the school age children who apply. It is therefore important to consider the public school in your district when choosing a home. These schools also provide free transportation to children within their district who live more than one kilometre from school. A parent may choose to enrol their child in a public primary school outside their home district however. In this case, the child may attend the school outside their district but only so long as their spot is not required by a new child from within the school's catchment area. Once that happens, the child who is attending school outside their district will be asked to leave the school immediately. In Secondary school, this rule is not followed as rigorously and students may attend the high school of their choice regardless of district. In this case however, it is important to be on time for registration as the best schools fill up quickly. All public primary schools in Quebec are coed and some have a uniform or dress code.
ENGLISH OR FRENCH?
In Montreal public schools at all levels are governed by one of three French language school boards or one of two English.
The three French school boards that govern all French public schools are:
The two English School boards that govern all English public schools are:
(East end of the island and Central Montreal)
ACCESS TO ENGLISH LANGUAGE EDUCATION
English language education is available in both the private and public systems. However, whether your child may attend an English language public school depends upon whether they meet certain criteria.
Under the Charter of the French Language, children in the following three categories may be enrolled in English-language schools:
* children who are permanent residents of Québec and who qualify for a certificate of eligibility for instruction in English
* children who are permanent residents of Québec and who are entitled to receive instruction in English under a special authorization
* children who are living in Québec temporarily and who qualify for a temporary authorization to receive instruction in English
Certificate of Eligibility
A certificate of eligibility is generally delivered to children:
* who did most of their elementary or secondary studies in English in Canada; or
* whose brother or sister did most of his or her elementary studies in English in Canada; or
* whose father or mother did most of his or her elementary studies in English in Canada; or
* whose father or mother attended school in Québec after August 26, 1977 and could have been declared eligible for instruction in English at that time
In the first two cases, the father or mother of the child must be a Canadian citizen. In the third case the father or mother must be a Canadian citizen, unless he or she did his or her studies in Québec.
These are the most common situations that allow a child to receive intstruction in English.
The certificate of eligibility for instruction in English is permanent. In other words, there is no time limit after which it expires.
Children who are declared eligible for instruction in English under section 73, 76 or 86.1 may pursue their studies in French and still transfer their right to receive instruction in English to their children.
When a child is declared eligible for instruction in English, his or her brothers and sisters may also be declared eligible.
Children who are entitled to receive instruction in English under a special authorization fall into two broad categories:
* children with serious learning disabilities as defined in the government regulation included under section 81 of the Charter
* children admitted to receive instruction in English by the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports by reason of a serious family or humanitarian situation, following a recommendation by the examining committee, after an assessment by a person designated by the Minister stating that the children's situation is not covered under any provision of the Charter
Children entitled to receive instruction in English under a temporary authorization fall into three broad categories:
First, the dependent children of persons living in Québec temporarily to study or work, including:
the dependent children of foreign nationals who hold a Québec certificate of acceptance or an employment authorization or a student authorization issued in accordance with the federal Immigration Act, or who are exempted from holding such a certificate or authorization under a statute applicable in Québec
the dependent children of Canadian citizens or permanent residents domiciled in another Canadian province or a territory of Canada living in Québec temporarily to study or work
Second, the dependent children of persons who are not Canadian citizens and who are posted in Québec temporarily as representatives or officers of a country other than Canada or of an international organization.
Last, the dependent children of members of the Canadian Armed Forces who are posted in Québec temporarily. The temporary authorization to receive instruction in English is delivered to the child and is valid for the same period as the immigration document issued to the parent or child or for the duration of the temporary stay as specified in a sworn declaration. It expires on June 30 of the school year in which the parent or child’s temporary stay ends.
A temporary authorization to receive instruction in English may be renewed provided that the applicant still meets the same criteria as in his or her first application. If the parent becomes naturalized, however, the child will no longer be able to pursue their studies at an English school.
However, the authorization cannot be granted to the children of foreign nationals who are claiming refugee status for themselves or their children, or of foreign nationals who choose to settle in Québec on a permanent basis and obtain a Québec selection certificate. If an authorization has already been granted, it expires on June 30 of the school year in which the selection certificate is delivered.
The Application Process
To have a child declared eligible to receive instruction in English, the parent or legal guardian of the child must apply to the school board or private school where he or she wishes to enroll the child.
The parent or legal guardian must complete the appropriate application form and attach all of the required supporting documents. The child’s birth certificate must be enclosed in all cases and must give the names of both parents. If a birth certificate cannot be provided, any other official document issued by a competent authority and attesting to the child’s date of birth, sex and filiation will be accepted.
The school board or private school forwards the application and supporting documents to a person designated by the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports. This person will verify whether the child is eligible for instruction in English and will render a decision.
The parent or legal guardian of the child will be informed of the decision within one to three weeks, depending on the time of year at which the application was made.
If the parent or legal guardian wishes to contest an unfavourable decision of the person designated by the Minister, he or she has 60 days to file an appeal to the Administrative Tribunal of Québec. If the parent or legal guardian wishes to claim a serious family or humanitarian situation in support of an application following an unfavourable decision of the person designated by the Minister, he or she has 30 days to submit the application to the examining committee.
Parents may obtain further information from the school board or private school where they wish to enroll their child or from the following MELS office:
Admissibilité à l'enseignement en anglais
Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport
600, rue Fullum, 11e étage
Montréal (Québec) H2K 4L1
Telephone: 1 866 747-6626 (Interurbain sans frais au Québec)
418 643-7095 (Appel local)
FAX: 514 864-2665
NOTE: in the above cases, one of the parents of the children must have Canadian citizenship, unless they attended primary schooling in English in theprovince of Quebec.
There have been some recent changes in the Quebec Charter that affect a child's access to English language education at a public school. A child may now have access to English language instruction at a public school after having attended an unsubsidized English private school for three years. Here is a list of unsubsidized English private schools. In addition, the Ministry of Education will review an application with reference to a number of criteria established to determine appropriate "educational pathway" of the student. This criteria was developed in the fall of 2010 with much controversy and may yet change again. It is therefore important to contact the Ministry of Education (number below) or your school board to receive the most up to date advice on this topic.
It is also important to realize that most English schools still offer a large part of their curriculum in French as part of an immersion or bilingual program. It is therefore critical to inquire specifically about the amount of English language instruction your chosen English school offers. This is true of both public and private schools.
UNIVERSITIES AND PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS
Montreal boasts four universities and a number of professional schools for a combined total of 180,000 students.
Université de Montreal
Université du Quebec a Montreal
École des Hautes
École de Technologie
Quebec Department of Education