Dear Québec Liberal youth members:
I do not normally find myself using the blog portion of my site much however, I felt it was important for me to address your proposal that would aim to abolish our unique CEGEP system across the province in favour of adding a sixth year to high school and a fourth year to University.
Now we all know that this proposal is nothing new. Several politicians and political organizations have taken their turn in expressing the need to either drastically change the CEGEP system or remove it all together. Out of these, several arguments have arisen ranging from the mention that our province would save millions of dollars (theoretically at best as the endowments saved from funding CEGEPs would be re-allocated to other educational institutions which would be required to grow to accommodate the change) to the need to change our system to uniformly match that of the rest of Canada. Now, do not get me wrong, the province of Québec has a history of deviating from the rest of the country in how it operates on some levels and admittedly, some of that needs changing. The CEGEP system however, is not one of those things.
CEGEPs no longer meet the needs of 21st century employers. This is something I have read on several news sources which I cannot agree on. In addition to offering pre-university programs, CEGEPs across the province offer students a chance to enroll in career and technology programs that prepare them to enter the workforce directly after their 3 years of study. These career programs are prime choices for a lot of students and in most cases are designed to be competitive in today’s global economy. As someone who graduated from a career program in Computer Science, I can tell you that the skills I acquired not only assisted me greatly in securing my first job in the field; it also gave me an edge when I decided to pursue university. A year into my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, I already felt a mile a head of my pre-university DEC classmates. Of course, this is my experience and although it was a positive one, I know that we need to do a lot more to ensure that our career programs continue to remain competitive. For CEGEPs, this means that program evaluations should be conducted more often with frameworks that allow these programs to change more easily from year-to-year so that they do not lose their edge.
As for employers, let us get them involved in these discussions and instead of focusing on how we should abolish the CEGEP system, let us talk about how we can improve on what we already have. Let us look at the human element even and talk to students who have graduated from CEGEP. Let us see what they think, what their experiences have been and let us talk about more pressing issues in education of which there are no shortage of.
This is but an open letter to you from someone who benefited as a CEGEP student, changed for the better as a result and very much appreciates a system that should continue to thrive so that future students can learn, and benefit from it as so many others before them have.