Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
 
Release of the 2000-2001 ANNUAL REPORT on the State and Needs of Education

The most recent annual report on the state and needs of education, entitled The governance of education: market logic or political process?, was released by Céline Saint-Pierre, the president of the Conseil supérieur de l’éducation, on December 13, 2001 in Montréal.

With this report, the Conseil begins a process of reflection, to be continued over the next two years, on the role of the state in education. After a historical overview of state intervention in education from the French Régime to the present, it considers the contemporary situation, characterized by globalization and the emergence of the knowledge-based society, of which Québec society is now a part. The Conseil reaffirms the state’s role in education and adds two new responsibilities to it.

A consensus: education is a public good

The Conseil’s consultations have given rise to a number of suggestions involving changes in the role of the state, but very few advocating the privatization of education or a reduction of the state’s role. It is for this reason that the Conseil maintains that the question of the role of the state in education should be considered in terms of the political process in a democratic society.

There are various arguments in favour of this position. First, this choice meets the need for accountability and the democratic control of education, considered as a public good. Second, according to the Conseil, only the political process can ensure that the education system will have the coherence and cohesion it requires for optimal quality, relevance and effectiveness. Similarly, only the political process can ensure that the education system will reflect the basic values of society and address the major issues and challenges that it faces.

New roles for the state

The Conseil is submitting five proposals to the Minister of State for Education and Employment. Three of them concern roles that the state already plays: the structure and organization of the education system, the financing of education and the general governance of the system. Two others put forward possible new responsibilities for the state.

First, the Conseil proposes the establishment of a framework for the ongoing adaptation and renewal of educational practices, which would place special emphasis on grassroots organizations and local initiatives. This framework would provide guidelines for encouragement and support for new educational practices and local initiatives, the evaluation of the education system, the circulation of information concerning best educational practices and a periodic revision process.

In the interest of the education system and its components and of the quality of the political decision-making process, the Conseil also proposes that an "education watch" be established to monitor the evolution of educational practices throughout the world and to note changes capable of improving such practices. This "education watch" should be public, that is, it should be closely linked to both the components of the education system and the political decision-making process with regard to education.

These proposals will form the backdrop of the Conseil’s 2001-2002 annual report, which will focus on orientations and priorities in education. The president of the Conseil hopes that these proposals will promote reflection within Québec society.

document complet (PDF)
Abridged Version (PDF)

Panorama • Volume 7, Number 1 • February 2002

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