QUEBEC, Que. — Some students may be getting a day off to participate in the global climate march, but the government believes they would learn more about the issue by being in school.
Quebec expects teachers to show up for work, as they are obliged to on a PED day.
“I would have preferred youth be in school and learn more about climate change,” Education Minister Jean-François Roberge told reporters Wednesday.
“The solution to environmental problems is at school. It is not in the street. It is in school that people will get an understanding of all these problems.
“It’s in school that people will learn the scientific solutions, where we will educate the engineers of tomorrow, educate the citizens of tomorrow to solve the crisis. The solutions are in the schools.”
But Roberge conceded he is powerless to stop school boards from giving students the day off Sept. 27 so they can participate in the march.
On Tuesday, the province’s largest school board, the CSDM, announced it was taking the unprecedented step of giving all its 114,000 students the day off Sept. 27 to encourage them to participate demanding government action on climate change.
The CSDM is switching a pedagogical day planned for later in the year to Sept. 27 to facilitate student participation.
“They are allowed to do this and it is not a problem because students don’t miss a day of school,” Roberge said. “The children will still have 180 days of school (this year).
“It’s not my first choice. Had I been deciding I wouldn’t have taken this decision. It is not a decision I can reverse.”
Roberge said he does not think the education system will be paralyzed that day because not every board is doing what the CSDM is doing.
But both Roberge and Premier François Legault said while students may be off that day, teachers have to show up to work.
“I would like to specify PED days are working days for the personnel and I expect personnel to be at work,” Roberge said. “I won’t play teacher police in all the schools but a PED day is not a day off.”
Legault also complained the CSDM informed parents at the last minute of the PED day.
“I expect the CSDM ensures teachers work next Friday,” Legault said, arriving for daily question period. “I expect teachers to be at work on that PED day. It’s not a free day for them.”
The CSDM has said it will ask its teachers to come to work in the morning to develop environment-related projects for their students to work on throughout the school year.
If the teachers wish to attend the climate march in the afternoon, they may do so, but will have to make up the hours missed at another time.
Legault, however, said he does not think the march is a place he should be. He said two cabinet ministers will attend.
He made the comments one day after ecologist Greta Thunberg announced she would not be coming to speak at the National Assembly agora.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019