(Quebec) Bernard Drainville is tightening the screws on school service centres. As La Presse revealed on Wednesday, it gives itself the powers to appoint their general managers for renewable terms of up to five years. It also creates a National Institute of Excellence in Education whose mission will be to disseminate best teaching practices and to decide on the training programs of future teachers.

This new reform, Bill 23, was tabled Thursday by the Minister of Education in Parliament. The government is presenting it as a follow-up to the reform of school governance, which had abolished French-language school boards to transform them into school service centres, adopted by Minister Jean-François Roberge during the first mandate of the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ ) to the government.

In his bill, Mr. Drainville states that he wants to improve the efficiency of the network in order to increase academic success. To achieve this, it wishes to conclude annual management and accountability agreements with each school service centre. These agreements would be costed and would aim to give the network objectives and targets for improving the success of young people.

In the event that decisions made by school service centers displease the Minister, he gives himself the power to cancel these decisions “and to take the one which, in his opinion, should have been taken in the first place”.

Mr. Drainville also says he is giving himself the necessary leverage to access network data that would allow him to better manage the system. In the past, he has often stated his wish to have a dashboard, like there is in health, in order to measure academic success in real time.

The National Institute for Excellence in Education, which the government is creating as part of its bill, is an element of the reform that is likely to cause a lot of talk within the teaching profession. Mr. Drainville believes that the school system must improve its practices by basing its actions on scientific knowledge derived from research. This new organization therefore becomes the educational equivalent of the National Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESSS) for the health network.

Among its roles, the National Institute for Excellence in Education will be mandated to formulate opinions on university teacher training programs and on continuing education activities for teachers during their careers. Its board of directors will be made up of nine members, including four people from the preschool, elementary or secondary education sector.

Bill 23 also modifies the mandate of the Higher Education Council, which thereby becomes the Higher Education Council. Its mandate will henceforth be limited to matters relating to CEGEPs and universities.

Bernard Drainville will hold a press briefing on Thursday, after question period in Parliament, to explain the details of his bill. On Wednesday, in the light of information revealed by La Presse, the opposition had criticized the minister, accusing him of assuming too many powers and of correcting the failure of the previous reform of Jean-François Roberge.