4-year-old kindergarten: Quebec fails to meet its target for 2023-2024

The Legault government has once again failed to meet its goal of opening daycare classes for 4-year-old children, since the number of groups for the current year is lower than the set goal.

The school network currently has 1,660 4-year-old early childhood education classrooms, according to figures from the Ministry of Education for the year 2023-2024 obtained by The newspaper.

However, the goal set by Quebec was more like 1,703 classes, reads a ministry document from June 2023.

The gap between the target and the reality on the ground also appears to be widening. Last year, Quebec also did not meet its goal, with 24 fewer classes than expected, a figure that rises to 43 this year.

The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, also announced last year that the goal of creating 2,600 kindergarten classes for 4-year-old children had to be postponed until 2029-2030 due to the lack of premises and teachers in the school network.

However, at this rate, this goal appears increasingly difficult to achieve, as the school network will have to significantly accelerate the pace to achieve it (see details below).

Quebec stays the course

In the minister’s cabinet, however, it is indicated to “stay the course” towards the objective announced last year.

The “lack of space and manpower continues this year, especially with the arrival of new arrivals,” indicates its press chief, Antoine de la Durantaye.

“We are aware of the efforts that remain to be made, we will work with the entire network to achieve this,” he adds.

“Good news”

In the school network we welcome this slowdown, considering the shortage of teachers.

“We should not be surprised, in short, it is good news,” says Nicolas Prévost, president of the Federation of Directors of Educational Institutions (FQDE).

The FQDE is in favor of daycare centers for 4-year-olds, says Prévost, who nevertheless calls for “the cessation” of their implementation, “when we get out of the water regarding the shortage.”

“As a school principal, you have to make decisions. I cannot open (new classes) if I do not have qualified personnel for these little ones, it makes no sense,” she states.

At the Federation of Education Unions we are not surprised by the situation either.

“It is good news to think that we will try to find legally qualified teachers for all our preschool and primary schools before continuing to open daycare classes for 4-year-olds in settings where it is less necessary” because children attend early childhood centers. indicates its president, Josée Scalabrini, who is in favor of opening these groups in disadvantaged areas where children rarely go to daycare services.

Reduction in the number of classes.

The shortage has also forced some service centers to reduce the number of 4-year-olds in daycare this year.

Last year, the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, harshly criticized the general director of the Center for School Services of the Pays-des-Bleuets (CSS) when he announced his intention to halve the number of classes for 4-year-olds in kindergarten. 2023-2024.

After apologizing for attributing this decision to inexperience, Mr. Drainville indicated that he wanted to work with the service center to find other solutions.

However, several classes have effectively been closed, since this year there are 10, compared to 19 last year, indicates the service center.

In Lanaudière, the Samares service center also reduced the number of daycare groups for 4-year-old children this year from 23 to 16. “Each year, the number of groups created depends on the capacity of our schools,” indicates the organization.

Kindergarten classes for 4-year-olds on the school network

2022-2023

  • Target: 1610
  • Actual number: 1586

2023-2024

  • Target: 1703
  • Actual number: 1660

Goals for the coming years*

2024-2025: 1875 classes
2025-2026: 2025 classes
2026-2027: 2175 classes

*According to the 2023-2027 strategic plan

Long-term goal: 2,600 classes in 2029-2030

Source: Ministry of Education

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