Québec’s Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports, Michelle Courchesne, voiced Québec’s views during the Ministerial Round Table on Education held in Paris on October 9 and 10 as part of the 35th Session of the UNESCO General Conference. This is the first time that a Québec cabinet minister has taken the floor during a Ministerial Round Table held within the framework of a program of the General Conference, UNESCO’s main policy-setting body.
Minister Courchesne’s participation flows from an agreement between the governments of Canada and Québec with respect to UNESCO. For the first time ever, this agreement establishes a formal role for Québec within a United Nations agency.
“What changes do we need to make to education in a world of economic instability?,” Minister Courchesne asked during a panel held under the theme “Promoting changes in policies and practices: the way forward.” She stressed that all states, in both the northern and southern hemispheres, are facing the same challenges, namely early school-leaving, particularly among boys, the need to match vocational training with employment, the implementation of open, inclusive education, and the taking-into-account of environmental issues.
The Minister invited her counterparts to defend education as a priority in their respective parliaments despite the economic context. She also called on UNESCO to echo the concerns expressed by the participating ministers. She said that she hoped to see UNESCO exercise leadership while respecting the identity and values of each country.
Minister Courchesne also took the floor during the first panel held as part of the Ministerial Round Table, speaking about the broad conclusions generated by the cycle of international conferences on education held in 2008 and 2009 at the initiative of UNESCO, and described the policies and certain tools adopted by the Government of Québec to meet these challenges.
Québec’s representative within the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO, Michel Audet, is also an active participant in work of the 35th Session of the UNESCO General Conference, in the areas of culture, science and communication. The 35th Session began on October 6 and will end on October 23.
35th Session of the UNESCO General Conference
Québec Representation in the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO
Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport