(Quebec) Bernard Drainville announces the first step “in a series of measures” to enhance the teaching of French in Quebec schools. As of the next school year, each preschool and elementary school teacher will be able to buy up to $300 worth of new books for their class, a measure aimed at improving students’ mastery of French.

In a press briefing in a primary school in Quebec on Tuesday, the Minister of Education recalled that reading was an “essential ingredient” for learning French, but also for all other subjects. After all, you have to know how to read and understand what you read to succeed in school.

This announcement, which is identical to the electoral commitment of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), must give great freedom to teachers in the choice of books, promised Mr. Drainville. They will place their order through their school service centre.

Bernard Drainville estimates that an average of 18 books will be added each year, per class, by 2027-2028. The cost of this measure is 55 million over five years. This is in addition to the $100 million envelope for school libraries.

In his tour of schools, the Minister of Education was introduced to the books that students and their teachers are reading these days. Among the titles he chose, Mr. Drainville cited:

“The bet we are making [with this measure] is that the level of French proficiency will improve, [as will] the success rate in French,” he said.

The Minister of Education also commented on Tuesday the debate which caused a lot of talk about a possible reform of the rules governing past participles. Last week in La Presse, the Quebec Association of French Teachers (AQPF) proposed to teach a simplified version of past participles, rather than hammering in rules that have been fixed for centuries.

“Honestly, I don’t have an answer to your question. For now, the rules apply,” Mr. Drainville said. The AQPF on Tuesday welcomed Quebec’s announcement to replenish schools with new books.

The Education Minister also said he was “reflecting” on the number of stages students are assessed at school. Teachers complain that the first stage, which ends before Christmas, places students in assessment too early in the school year.

Regarding the thorny issue of prayer rooms in schools, Mr. Drainville reiterated that a directive prohibiting them would soon be sent to school service centers. He did not give any further details on this subject. The Minister also revealed that there is currently a shortage of 927 qualified teachers in Quebec schools.