Press Release, Rassemblement pour la laïcité (Alliance for Secularism)
Quebec Culture and Citizenship
A promising new course for social cohesion
The Rassemblement pour la laïcité (Alliance for Secularism, RPL) enthusiastically welcomes the draft, announced today by the Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge, of the new Quebec Culture and Citizenship course which will replace the Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) course by autumn of 2022.
This course will focus on citizenship and participation in civic life, with an emphasis on putting life in society on a common foundation. We are delighted that religion is no longer placed at the centre of individual identity, but rather viewed as one element among many to be addressed within the framework of Quebec culture and societies. Indeed, the ERC course gave a predominant place to religious freedom which was interpreted in too broad a sense, encompassing absolute respect for all religious practices, and thus making any critical discussion of religions impossible. We welcome the emphasis in this new course on freedom of conscience and the development of critical thinking. We welcome the fact that freedom of conscience, gender equality and State secularism are presented as non-negociable Quebec values, at the core of a common citizenship. Finally, we are pleased to note that the emphasis will be placed on the development of ethical reflection and critical thinking.
“The development of critical thinking is at the heart of any educational endeavour, and all worldviews, whatever they may be, can and should be criticized and confronted with the realities of our time,” according to RPL president Claude Kamal Codsi.
The new orientations announced today are an appropriate response to criticisms voiced by many groups and parents for several years. They are an important step in the right direction. However, it is the realization of these orientations that will be the determining factor for the success of this new course.
“Unlike the ERC program, the guidelines announced today are well aimed at achieving the desired objectives of social cohesion. However, it is the preparation of relevant, solid and concrete teaching material, as well as training and support of teachers in these new directions, that will make this course a success,” according to Nadia El Mabrouk, member of the RPL Board of Directors, who has for several years denounced the presence of sexual and ethnic stereotypes in the textbooks of the ERC course.
This important change of direction will inevitably meet resistance. We would like to express our full support to Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge in the implementation of this new program geared towards the development of a common citizenship. The future of our children and of Quebec are at stake.
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Mme Nadia El Mabrouk (514) 222-9980
M. Claude Kamal Codsi (514) 998-3371