Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
End of my Mandate as President of the Conseil

by Céline Saint-Pierre,

I began my term as president of the Conseil on January 4, 1997. In the near future, once the Conseil des Ministres appoints a new president, I will step down. I accepted this mandate five years ago with great enthusiasm, which remains undiminished today. My experience within the Conseil has allowed me to observe at firsthand the importance, indeed the relevance for the government and for Québec society of this advisory role in education.

The Conseil enjoys full autonomy in the preparation of its briefs and recommendations to the Minister. By exercising the power conferred on it, which is a power to influence, it plays a role in the democratic process of political decision making. This influence is based on several factors, two of which are essential for the achievement of its mission. The first is its ability to express clearly and objectively the concerns of the education community. The second is the critical and constructive analysis that underlies the recommendations it makes to the Minister of Education to guide his educational policy decisions. I believe the Conseil is able to fulfill its mission in part because of the way in which it and its commissions are composed, and especially because of the strong involvement of its members and their commitment to fulfill their responsibilities regarding the mission of the organization. I want to thank all those who have been members of the Conseil during my mandate and to tell them how much I appreciate the work they have accomplished, given the demands that it represented for each of them.

The Conseil’s credibility as an organization depends on its members, as I have suggested, but also on the relevance of the themes of the briefs it prepares for the Minister in the framework of its mandate. We have a great responsibility in this regard, and I have always been at pains to ensure that we have made the best choices concerning the situation of education in Québec and elsewhere, and put to the best possible use the human and physical resources placed at our disposal by the government. In this connection, I am grateful to all the permanent staff of the Conseil, for giving me their full support and enabling me to carry out my duties as president to the best of my ability.

I have placed considerable priority on the dissemination of the Conseil’s briefs, and sought to make them known, as far as I could, at each level of education and in the various educational milieus by making speeches, participating in conferences, and ensuring that they received media coverage. The creation of our Web site and our newsletter, Panorama, and the publication of abridged versions of our briefs seemed to me to be effective ways to promote the Conseil’s views and to make them known in the very milieus that helped shape them.

As a government organization, the Conseil will henceforth be expected to prepare a multiyear strategic plan and to present a management report on the results of its work. This will necessitate a change in its mode of operation, and the required change is under way. However, the Conseil wanted to establish a solid basis for this change by performing an overall evaluation of its present work process and identifying ways to improve the production activities and output associated with its mission. In this way, it will itself apply a measure it proposed for the education system as a whole in its 1998-1999 annual report Institutional evaluation in education: a factor conducive to development. It is thus fully in agreement with the objectives of the procedure, but has yet to allocate the means and time needed to carry it out successfully.

I conclude my term as president of the Conseil with the firm conviction that it must never lose sight of its essential mission and the principles that underlie it. It must retain its concern for quality and rigorous thinking, its lucid vision of the evolution of the education system in Québec and elsewhere, and its independence with regard to all pressure groups. It must courageously employ its power to influence the orientation of educational policies and practices with the ultimate purpose of contributing to the emergence of a society based on equity and social justice, democracy and the well-being of every individual, which are precisely the components of the plan for citizenship education that the Conseil drew up for Québec schools.

Panorama • Volume 7, Number 1 • February 2001


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