Education in Québec
Education is a major investment in Québec’s collective future. The great diversity and quality of the education system are valuable assets for the Québec society. Québec is relentlessly looking at new ways in order to improve the excellence of its education system. It has some of the highest enrollment and graduation rates among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Québec is one of the 13 members of the Canadian federation, a British-style constitutional monarchy. Under the 1867 Canadian Constitution, Québec, along with the other Canadian provinces and territories, has the exclusive right to make its own laws in matters of education.
There is no ministry responsible for education at the federal level; ministries of education exist only at the provincial and territorial levels. In Québec, the ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS) is the government body responsible for promoting access to all forms of education for all those who have the desire and ability to be educated. It also endeavours to coordinate the orientations and activities of the education community with government policies in general and with the economic, social and cultural needs of Québec society. Québec’s education system is based on a sharing of responsibilities by the government, universities, colleges, school boards and schools. After the health sector, education receives the most funding.
A Well-Structured System
Made up of public and private French and English educational institutions, Québec’s education system has four levels: elementary (which also includes preschool), secondary, college and university.
Approximately 1.8 million people are enrolled in various full- and part-time studies. Education is free at the elementary, secondary and college levels. Public elementary and secondary schools fall under the jurisdiction of school boards managed by elected school commissioners.
French, the Language of Instruction
French is the first language of over 80 percent of Québec’s population. In addition to being the language of everyday life in most regions of Québec, French is the language of instruction. Under the Charter of the French Language, instruction is to be given in French at the preschool, elementary and secondary levels. However, some students who meet specific requirements of the Charter may receive their schooling in English. These students account for approximately 11.2 % of the total enrollment in Québec’s elementary and secondary schools. As for college and university students, they can enroll in either English or French language.
For those students who are not fluent in French, the MELS offers a variety of language learning support measures in cooperation with the school boards, which dispense preschool, elementary school and secondary school education.
The Charter does not apply to Québec's colleges and universities or non-subsidized private institutions.
Levels of Education