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On Learning in Québec CEGEP

By Bernard

The Québec education system is quite different than every others in the world.  This is a legacy of the Quiet Revolution of the 1960.  At that time, the same people who created the new ministry of education in 1964 also created, in 1965, a new kind of school called in French "College d'enseignement général et professionnel" or CEGEP.  They are not Junior Colleges and can be called "General and Vocational Colleges".

The Cegep were created as a link between the highschools and the universities and included the technical teaching at that level.  So, highschool pupils graduated after five years, instead of six all over the world.  The course "Economics" was a fifth highschool course.  Cegep also took one year from the colleges, leaving them with three years, after CEGEP, to delivrer the graduation;  so after two years in CEGEP, the students graduate to theuniversities for undergraduates studies.  Most of the vocational program have a duration of three years in the CEGEP.

At the beginning, all the program were implemented on a transition basis that was restudied and corrected one by one inthe following years.  Finally, in 1980, it was time to redesign the biggest program:  Human Sciences, with 25% of the students.

Some researches were made at the university level, by very bright researchers, but their conclusions were rejected by the Cegep teachers for opposite reasons:  too high level and too low level, according to their own ways of teaching.  So, a group of coordinators, one from each disciplines, were mandated to find a way.  They worked together from 1980 to 1985 before laying their first primary report.

This is how the general studies are presented today in Vanier College<:

"An important feature of the CÉGEP system is that it requires all students to pursue the goals of a general education. No matter what specialization students choose, CÉGEP provides them with the disciplined development of those insights, skills and values that are important for personal growth as human beings.

"Well-rounded graduates from all fields are highly valued in the workplace for their creativity, articulateness, critical thinking and the broader skills which are part of the mandate of General Education courses.

"The goals of general education, as defined by the Quebec Ministry of Education, are

  1. to provide students with a common cultural core
  2. to help them learn and develop generic skills
  3. to prepare them for their roles as responsible members of society
  4. to enable them to share in the common cultural heritage

"Students achieve these goals through the general education component of their programs. This consists of:

  • courses in English, Humanities, French, and Physical Education collectively known as "General Studies"
  • complementary courses chosen from outside the student's field of concentration.
  • (specific) course requirements (for each program).

"General Studies courses in English and Humanities are designed to help students develop their basic skills of reading, thinking, writing and speaking; to initiate critical reflection on their lives, and on society's intellectual, artistic, moral, social and political values; and to promote a deeper insight into the human condition, both past and present. The French component of General Studies is included to assist students to participate fully in the mainstream of Québec society. The Physical Education component is designed to promote personal wellness and a healthy lifestyle.

"General Studies courses are sequenced to help students develop the insights and competencies appropriate for graduation from college. Courses are also designed to capture the interests and answer to the program needs of a broad range of students.

"Complementary courses enable students to explore different areas of interest and to broaden their horizons."

More on my French website.<