In the News: Complete Revision of ERC Planned

Quebec to abolish ethics and religious culture course, to make way for ’21st-century themes’ , Laura Marchand, CBC News, 2020-01-10.

The Coalition Avenir Québec government plans to abolish the ethics and religious culture (ECR) course currently offered in Quebec schools. Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said he wants to replace it with a new curriculum with a new name and a different focus. The new course would include themes such as citizen participation, democracy, legal education, sexuality, interpersonal relationships, ethics and eco- and digital-citizenship. The section exploring religions would be replaced with a broader theme, focusing on the cultures of different societies. […]

The CAQ promised to overhaul the course by the end of its first mandate, in response to criticism of the ECR curriculum, which some have denounced as being too relativistic. Others, including the Parti Québécois, have complained it promotes the federal government’s vision of multiculturalism — one that doesn’t sit well with Quebec nationalists. Many of those same critics are proponents of Quebec’s contentious Bill 21, which bans religious symbols for civil servants in positions of authority. They point out young people between the ages of 18 and 24 — who one critic has dubbed the “ECR generation” — are the most likely to see Bill 21 as an affront to fundamental rights. […]

The ECR curriculum, compulsory for elementary and high school students, came a decade after Quebec’s confessional public school system was replaced by linguistic school boards. From the time the new course was introduced by the Charest Liberal government in 2008, it was a flash point in the debate over religious accommodation. Quebec’s secularism movement argued ethics and religious culture should not be combined in a single course and could lead students to conclude it’s not possible to act ethically without religious belief. […]

The government will hold three forums to hear from experts in Trois-Rivières, Quebec City and Montreal in February as part of a consultation on the subject.

Excellent news! Good riddance to the Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) programme. It has been a vehicle for pro-religious and communitarian propaganda, presenting a cartoonish, stereotyped and often fundamentalist image of each religion which it covers, while almost totally ignoring non-belief such as atheism.

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