Quebec culture and citizenship course | What progress?

More than a year has passed since the announcement of the replacement of the Ethics and Religious Culture (ECR) course with the Quebec Culture and Citizenship (CCQ) course, but for now, we are still waiting for concrete changes for our children.

If we are to believe the information leaked before the holiday, the new course is still far from ready and some unions are even asking to postpone its implementation for a year. However, there is an urgent need to reform this outdated, inappropriate course, which spreads stereotypes and divides students, and we hope that Education Minister Bernard Drainville will make this a priority.

But beyond questions of time and teacher training, what about the program itself? What development should we expect? Our analysis that follows is based on the interim CCQ program that was made public last fall.

Less religious culture… but same orientation

Note that the ECR has raised countless criticisms since its creation, mainly because it gives too much space to religions, without critical analysis, and puts pressure on students to identify their selves through affiliations and skills. Furthermore, ECR is contrary to State Secularism Law (Law 21).

According to the government’s announcement, the new CCQ course will rely on critical thinking, dialogue and the promotion of a common Quebec citizenship that transcends religious affiliations. These are great goals! But what about the facts?

By consulting the provisional program, we notice that the religious culture that occupied a major place in the ECR is no longer indicated as a competence in the new course, but becomes a subject in another. This is really a big change that should make it possible to avoid, or at least reduce, the stigmatization of people through religious identity and practices.

But then? How to gather? How to define a common Quebec citizen identity? Unfortunately, the provisional program remains very vague on these questions, which are nevertheless important in the context of the citizenship course.

And the elephant in the room is the almost total absence of state secularism. Apart from two or three appearances as indicative examples, secularism is conspicuous by its absence.

But what will prevent us from continuing to promote the so-called “open” secularism of the course, in other words the multiculturalist concept of managing religious diversity that defines religious freedom as the absolute freedom to practice and be promoting one’s religion? , in any place and at any time? Currently, the explicit or implicit message sent to young people through the ECR course is that Bill 21 will be racist and Islamophobic. How will it change if we do not give an indication of the way of managing life together that is advocated in the new course?

Freedom of expression under surveillance

Moreover, it will be remembered that the new course was announced in the fall of 2021 at a time when the censorship of literary works, the prohibition of the pronunciation of certain words and the obstacles to academic freedom – reaching their climax in the case Lieutenant – Duval at the University of Ottawa – is in full swing. Jean-Fran├žois Roberge then emphasized the importance of defending freedom of expression and equipping young people to argue with respect. Great, but concretely, how to achieve this?

Despite some warnings against censorship and indoctrination, the dangers of slippage abound in the tentative program of the new course. How to address themes related to religious affiliations, gender identity, racism, without falling into prevailing ideological dogmatism?

For example, in the theme “Social groups and power relations”, we can read the concepts “racism, colonialism, feminism, decolonialism, LGBTQ+ movement”, etc. What would feminism be? What anti-racism? Which LGBTQ+ is fighting? In this age marked by excess, will we choose the viewpoint of the most militant and radical groups of each camp?

Divisible theories

As much as Marxism was the main doctrine in the 1970s, today it is sociological theories dominated by the unscientific concept of the “human race” in vogue. The entire history of Western civilization has been analyzed under the prism of the domination of the “white race”, imperialism, colonialism, racism. And these new theories enjoy a status of untouchable and absolute truth. As with religions. It is certainly not what will make it possible to develop the critical sense of young people or create a sense of a common citizenship of Quebec. On the contrary, it is communitarianism, division, and racism that we are fed.

Instead of crystallizing beliefs, religions, “race” or “gender” affiliations and dividing young people into multiple identity groups, the role of the school is, on the contrary, to bring people together, to create commonality. , but also consider all youth. equally, not as members of communities, but as individuals, on a universal basis.

All this difficult exercise in redesigning the ECR should not have served, in the end, only to replace one dogmatism with another, one religion with another. The only way to reverse the trend is to clearly articulate the state’s model of secularism and the principles underpinning it in the curriculum of the new course.

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