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  • Writer's pictureAnna Robertson

Know where your English eligibility certificate is?

Your kids may have attended English school in Quebec for years, but come June 2023, they will have to provide their certificate of eligibility at English CEGEPs.

Accessing an English public-school education in Quebec has presented challenges to the minority anglophone community ever since Bill 101 was passed in 1977. Proving eligibility to access an English education has been a requirement since that time, and school-age children who attend schools in the Western Quebec School Board (WQSB) have always had to prove their eligibility for an education in English.

Recent changes announced by the Quebec ministry of education will now also require CEGEP students in the province to produce evidence that they are eligible for an English education, explains director general of Heritage College, Terry Kharyati.

Students who have been attending a school in the WQSB, which is 45 per cent of Heritage’s population, have nothing to worry about in terms of their eligibility, said Kharyati, but they will still need to provide their certificate. Eligibility requirements for receiving a certificate are outlined on the Quebec ministry of education website and include children whose father or mother did the major part of their elementary studies in English in Canada.

“If you are anything like me,” Khariyati said, “your kids are eligible for English education, but you might have no idea where the copy of your certificate is.”

“For us, right now,” said Kharyati, “the big message to get out to our potential students currently in Grade 11 is, if you are eligible for English-speaking schooling, you need to be able to prove it and you have until June 30 of 2023 to do so.”

“We kind of saw this coming,” Kharyati explained. He and academic dean at Heritage, Lisa Peldjak, will hire a new staffer dedicated to removing barriers and helping people process all of the English language eligibility requests specific to CEGEPs.

“If you are seeking eligibility for the first time, it can be a very daunting process,” Kharyati commented.

Kharyati wants people to be proactive and get on the paperwork now, so that there are no surprises and people have choices about their education when the time comes.

The certificates will be required in June of 2023, but applications to CEGEP begin early in the new year.

Exit exams an issue, says CEGEP

Kharyati and Peldjak clarified that the underlying issue is not so much access to education at an English CEGEP like Heritage, but rather the exit language exam that students have to write. Without the English language eligibility certificate, francophone and allophone students will have to take specific French language courses and write the French language exit exam to graduate.

In contrast, students with the English eligibility certification will write the English language exit exam. These students will be mandated to take French language courses, but they will be in a different stream of courses from the francophone and allophone students.

More changes regarding French course requirements for English eligible students will be coming in 2024, but Peldjak explained that they have no details to work with yet.

“As soon as we get information, we act on it and communicate it right away,” said Peldjak. Changes to French language courses for francophone and allophone students to be implemented in January were announced in mid December. Course and staffing changes have to be made and communicated to students in a very short period of time, which is stressful for everyone, she added and said “there are a lot of moving parts.”

Kharyati commented that “we don’t have control over a certain part of this, but we do have control over the decisions we make.” He said he and his team “are super competent about this,” and will do everything in their power to ensure that Heritage students are successful.

“We are trying hard to keep the emotion out of this,” said Kharyati. “We have to be surgical with our decision-making, very precise with our messaging, and overly prepared to face changes as they present themselves. Every arm of the college is working together,” he explained.


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