Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
 
THE VARIOUS MEANINGS of success

Céline Saint-Pierre
President

The various possible meanings of the word "success" are still being debated, as every school, college and university in Québec draws up its new success plan or performance contract. The new focus in Québec is on ensuring that as many students as possible achieve academic success, given the current context in which knowledge and know-how have become major tools for personal as well as economic and social development. The Conseil supports this objective, provided it is based on a definition of success that is inclusive, and it is in this sense that Conseil prefers the term "educational success."

Consequently, the education system, at all levels, must help all individuals, young or old, to achieve their full potential. It must help them acquire qualifications to join the workforce in fields that correspond to their aspirations, interests and abilities, and it must help prepare them to play active roles as citizens, able to understand and make a contribution to the world in which they live. Seen from this viewpoint, academic success takes on the broader meaning of educational success, and achieving educational success is the best guarantee that as many individuals as possible will also be successful in joining the workforce and playing an active role in society.

Compared to OECD countries in general, Québec ranks in the top group for the proportion of students who obtain a secondary school diploma across all age groups. This is an encouraging result; the graduation rate in 2000-2001 was 82.5%. However, a major, intensive effort must be made to ensure that, by 2010, at least 85% of youth sector students obtain their Secondary School Diploma or equivalent before the age of 20, a feat that only 71.7% accomplish at present. We must do everything possible to show all students, girls as well as boys, how to take responsibility for their education and define their own paths to success, which must include a Secondary School Diploma or Diploma of Vocational Studies as a prime objective. Schools must ensure that all students receive appropriate support in their studies and their quest for a diploma. Completing a program of studies must be seen as a rewarding challenge; the effort required to meet the challenge must make sense in terms of the cultural universe of young people today. Currently, this is not the case for a majority of boys from disadvantaged neighbourhoods, in particular.

Two separate commitments are required. First, young people must make a commitment to their studies; and second, society must make a commitment to all young people to ensure that they are offered the best possible conditions for achieving academic, vocational and social success. Key political and economic players must send a clear message emphasizing the value of education and recognizing education as the primary tool for the development of Québec society and its population. It is also essential that the message be relayed by parents and the students’ environment outside of school. These are the conditions that must be met if we are to meet the ultimate goal of society of ensuring that all young Québecers achieve educational success.

Panorama • Volume 7, Number 2 • June 2002

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