Time to look at new education model, expert says
Daniel J. Rowe, CTV Montreal
Published Friday, August 30, 2019 2:15PM EDT
A new study suggests looking at a new model for Quebec education spending could help avoid rising costs while improving the quality of education.
Chief Montreal Economic Institute economist Luc Vallee said it's time to look at a different model when it comes to running schools as numbers are changing.
Vallee said between 2006 and 2016 education spending rose 13 per cent, while the number of students enrolled dropped meaning the spending-per-student rose by nearly 20 per cent.
Vallee said to expect a rise in enrollment over the next five years by about seven per cent forecasting a troubling time for future education budgets.
"Expenses in education are going to grow, so what we're asking is can we do something to maintain the quality or at least increase it, while containing the cost increase," he said.
Vallee does not suggest slashing education dollars, but rather a better allocation of resources.
"I think we are all in favour of improving what's already there, and we're not suggesting to cut. We're suggesting to do it differently," said Vallee.
A recent MEI study looked at Sweden's voucher system, which allows parents to choose which school they would like their children to attend unlike in Quebec where students must attend schools based on where they live.
"What we claim is that this is not enough incentive for the managers of the school to improve, to resort to innovation, to contain costs," said Vallee. "They just have the easy life of a monopoly."
The study also found that in Sweden, schools remains public, while its management is private, so competition is stimulated. The MEI maintains that education should be free with certain standards but that management could be private to increase competition.
"What's wrong with entrusting local entrepreneurs to help your community do better with costs and improve services and improve the quality of education," he said.
Vallee admits the initiative may be a political hot potato, but if the program starts slowly, it can gain public support in time.