The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, officially orders all school service centers to prohibit the installation of rooms intended for prayer in the classrooms. In his directive, adopted by the council of ministers on Wednesday, the minister says “no place” in a school should be used for praying.

“In order to preserve the secular nature of public schools, I am therefore issuing today a directive concerning religious practices in our schools, our vocational training centers and our public adult education centers. Schools are places of learning and not places of worship,” confirms Mr. Drainville, in a statement issued at the end of the day.

Very clearly, Quebec orders service centers and other establishments to ensure “that no place is used, in fact or in appearance, for the purposes of religious practices such as manifest prayers or other similar practices. “.

In early April, Cogeco Nouvelles first reported that high schools in Laval, among other places, had set up quiet rooms in classrooms, while groups of students were praying in inappropriate places, such as in stairwells. or in the parking lot. Minister Drainville then first invited them to pray in silence, promising to ban this kind of development.

Then, 98.5 FM also cited the testimony of an employee of the School of International Education who claimed that a teacher would have improvised as an imam and that girls would have been refused entry to the premises.

During the days that followed, several debates took place in the Blue Room. The parliamentarians notably adopted a motion proposed by the PQ. The text of this motion stipulated in particular that “the establishment of places of prayer, regardless of denomination, on the premises of a public school goes against the principle of secularism”. Québec solidaire (QS) then clarified that it was open to a “meditation” room open to students of all religious denominations and those who do not.

Mr. Drainville’s directive mentions in particular that “the development of places used for the purposes of religious practices in a school, a vocational training center or a public adult education center is incompatible with the principle of religious neutrality of State “.

“According to the principle of freedom of conscience, a pupil has the right to be protected from any direct or indirect pressure aimed at exposing him or influencing him so that he conforms to a religious practice”, including also affirms the minister, recalling that a representative of the State “cannot, in the exercise of his functions, favor one or more religions, for example by supervising or otherwise endorsing the organization of religious practices”.

If this directive is not respected, then it will be up to the general management of the school service center to take “the necessary means so that the appropriate corrective measures are taken by the establishment directors”, concludes the Minister of Education.

Beyond the school network, Quebec “does not intend” to ban the rooms of meditation where students say prayers in CEGEPs and universities, had indicated the office of the Minister of Higher Education, Pascale Dery.