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Concerns raised about rate of absenteeism in Quebec schools

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There are concerns about absenteeism in Quebec schools as it seems a growing number of students just aren't showing up for class.

According to La Presse, the education ministry's statistics show that in the first week of April,

9.5 per cent of students in public elementary and secondary schools were absent — almost as many as during the pandemic.

"The fact that children are missing school goes together with motivation, goes together with mental health issues," Katherine Korakakis, president of the English Parents' Committee Association, told CTV News.

In January, the association conducted a survey on students' well-being and quality of life and received responses from 14,000 parents.

"The top things that we saw was motivation and mental health being a very key factor that parents were identifying," Korakakis said.

Public health experts who worked on the survey calculated what they call "quality of life." They say a score of 100 is considered "excellent" but the average score for Quebec students was just 64 per cent, which korakakis believes is what's leading to the rise in absenteeism.

"There needs to be a concerted effort from all educational stakeholders to address this serious rise in mental health issues with children," she said.

In an email to CTV News, the Lester B. Pearson School Board said it is "very aware of the issue of student absenteeism and we are taking a proactive approach in terms of addressing the issue. In the school board’s commitment to success plan, one of our objectives is to reduce these absences by 10 per cent by the 2026-2027 school year. This is part of our plan to improve effectiveness at meeting the academic needs of diverse learners."

Korakakis says efforts need to be made now for vulnerable students.

"The educational stakeholders have to come together and it has to be led by the government to say, 'We prioritize this, this is an issue, let's do something about it,'" she said.

When asked about the increase in student absenteeism, the education minister said Tuesday that ultimately it's up to parents to decide if children are well enough to be in class.

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