Rally: We will Break Down the Barriers to Schooling for Immigrant Children!

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The Law on Public Education in Quebec will be modified in the coming weeks. This reform represents a crucial opportunity in the fight for education for all, regardless of immigration status. We may be close to breaking down barriers faced by undocumented children and youth, but we still need your support!

When? Wednesday August 26th at 11am.
Where? in front of the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board offices, 1100 Côte-Vertu (a 7 minute walk from Côte-Vertu metro station)

On the day before kids return to school, join us to help move this fight forward. Together, we may be on the point of an historic breakthrough: allowing all children, regardless of their immigration status, access to free education in Quebec.

Why are we organizing this event at the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board (CSMB) ?

The Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board (CSMB) provides a striking example of the current problem of exclusion of undocumented children from Quebec schools. This school board – the second largest in Quebec – serves an area in which thousands of immigrant families live. The school board has nevertheless failed to adopt a policy to facilitate access to education for undocumented families.

In recent months, numerous problems with the CSMB have been recorded: unjustified requests for mulitple documents (contrary to all principles of confidentiality), demands for exhorbitant fees (more than $6000 per child per year), lack of knowledge of regulatory exemptions, use of threatening tone, and outright refusal to register.

This shows that the problem continues; in this specific board and in others throughout the province. The steps supposedly taken by the government have changed almost nothing. The current system upheld by the government produces exclusion. This exclusion is a clear example of structural racism: national origins determine migration status, eligibility for exemptions, and heavily influence relations with administrative staff.

Officials either deny the extent of the problem (a common approach by school boards) or make vague and non-committal statements about changes that “should happen” (as the ministry of education just did in response to a recent letter from the Collectif éducation sans frontières).

After years of struggle, important breakthroughs took place last year. Last fall, the Quebec Ombudsperson released a report on the subject, recommending major changes. Even the Liberal Party of Quebec passed a “resolution to integrate undocumented children in Quebec society” during its 2014 general assembly. It recommended that the “government of Quebec review the Law on Public Education to allow children of undocumented parents free education in the Quebec education system.”

How much longer will families in precarious situations have to wait before the provincial government takes things seriously? How can anyone understand let alone justify inaction when, according to the Quebec Ombudsperson, over a thousand children in Quebec don’t go to school because their parents are undocumented?

As summer draws to a close, let’s finish the work we started together and win access to school and confidentiality for all undocumented children.

For more information on the issue, see collectifeducation.org