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Quebec announces $300 million catch-up plan for students after weeks of strike


After seven long weeks of teachers' strikes, Quebec students are back in school, and to help them get up to speed, the province is spending $300 million on a catch-up plan.

While some parents aren't worried about the lost time, others question whether their children will be able to catch up.

"We are taking every means possible to allow our students to overcome the difficulties created by the strikes and try to bring as many of these students as possible to success," Education Minister Bernard Drainville said Tuesday at a news conference in Montreal.

The minister estimates half a million students will need additional help. Over the next two weeks, teachers will evaluate their students and then make recommendations to parents.

The ministry says it will provide free after-hours tutoring, additional language training for immigrant students, free summer school for high schoolers at risk of dropping out, and will give money to community groups as part of the plan. He said the funds will be allocated based on where the need exists.

"I have a great deal of faith in the competency and the professionalism of our teachers and our school personnel so I am very confident that we will succeed," Drainville said.

Like during the pandemic, ministry exams this year will count for just 10 per cent of students' overall grade and will test essential learning only for Secondary 4 and 5.

Drainville said the school year will still end by June 24, and, for now, March Break and the remaining Ped days will remain as is. But some schools could remain open during March Break for tutoring on a voluntary basis, if needed.

Converting those days into regular teaching days would have to be negotiated with the local unions.

"Let us see how these discussions will proceed and maybe, at the end of this process, some local unions agree to convert some of these Ped days to teaching days," the minister said.

The Fédération Autonome de l'Enseignement (FAE) said it is cautiously optimistic about the plan, saying in a written statement: "The FAE therefore invites teachers to take this opportunity to identify all the needs of their students, young people and adults alike, and not to censor themselves in this exercise on the basis of the sums available. It also invites them to collaborate in the implementation of measures, on a voluntary basis, since the system should not be based on overload imposed on teachers."

The teachers' union says students are behind because of an accumulation of factors, including underfunding of the system for years, the pandemic, and now these strikes.

The FAE said the catch-up plan should not be limited to this school year alone and the resources should remain available as long as needed.

LISTEN ON CJAD 800 RADIO: Catherine Hogan, high school teacher at Westwood Senior High in Hudson reacts to Drainville's catch-up plan Top Stories

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