Despite promises, kids still denied schooling on the basis of immigration status [press release; event today]

Press release

For immediate diffusion

Despite promises, kids still denied schooling on the basis of immigration status
Families gather before the first day of school, ask that the Minister of Education finally hand in his homework

Press scrum : Today, Sunday, August 28th, 2016, at 13:30, in front of école Le Plateau, at the end of Calixa-Lavallée avenue, in La Fontaine park.

Montreal, Sunday, August 28th, 2016 : Again this year, many children with precarious immigration status will not be going to school. A family-friendly gathering will take place the day before the first day of school, to call on the Minister of Education to finally open schools to all.

Sara, a mother of three, was told last year that her children could not attend primary school unless she paid annual tuition fees totaling more than $18,000. Finally, with accompaniment, the children were enrolled, though the family still received the bills.

Other families face greater hurdles: when attempting to register at the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys in 2015, one family that was unable to pay the bills were told that without an eligible immigration status, “there is nothing we can do for you,” reports Steve Baird, a member of the Education Across Borders Collective who accompanied the family. The child was unable to attend school.

In November 2014, the Quebec Ombudsperson recommended legislative changes as well as temporary measures, the later to be put in place before the beginning of the school year… of 2015! (1) Though the government accepted the recommendations and included some of them in a bill before the last session of the National Assembly, neither temporary nor permanent measures have been enacted.

“We hope that a new bill will be tabled soon, and will guarantee access to school for all children, ending this discriminatory and arbitrary situation where only some children are enrolled. Meanwhile, where are the temporary measures recommended by the Ombudsperson?” asks Clärli Honegger of the Education Across Borders Collective.

Quebec’s current Law on Public Education does not respect universal access to free education without discrimination, as embodied in instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 26), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 13) or the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 28) to which Québec has declared itself bound by the adoption of Decree 1676-91 (on December 9th, 1991).

According to estimates by the Ministry of Education, there are at least a few hundred children in Quebec who are excluded from schools because of their immigration status or that of their parents (3). According to a report by the Quebec Ombudsperson, the true number could be in the thousands (4).

The family-friendly picnic and rally of Sunday, August 28th will welcome participants as of 12:30 pm. At 1:30 pm, there will be a press scrum at which members of the Education Across Borders Collective and people affected by the issue will share information with journalists and answer questions. Sara, the mother of three children mentioned above, and two other persons affected will be available to speak to journalists.

Media contacts :
Steve Baird : [phone numbers removed from the online version]
Anne Buisson : [phone numbers removed from the online version]

For more information, see : collectifeducation.org

References :
Protecteur du citoyen du Québec, « Accès à l’éducation publique pour les enfants en situation d’immigration précaire », November 7th, 2014,  https://protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/rapports_speciaux/2014-11-07_statut-immigration-precaire_0.pdf
Collectif éducation sans frontières, « Mémoire du Collectif Éducation sans frontières sur le projet de loi n° 86 », march 15th, 2016,  http://collectifeducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Mémoire-du-Collectif-Education-sans-frontières-projet-de-loi-86-final.pdf
Protecteur du citoyen du Québec, 2014, page 5. (See reference number 1.)
Protecteur du citoyen du Québec, 2014, page 5. (See reference number 1.)