Absenteeism at school | Drainville asks parents to do their part

(Quebec) The Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, is “hugely” concerned by the figures revealed Tuesday by The Presswhich revealed that nearly 10% of young people in Quebec were not in school at the beginning of April, a percentage of absenteeism almost as high as in the middle of the pandemic.

“It concerns me greatly. […] If parents are having difficulty with a child, I invite them to seek help. In certain cases, you have to turn to social services,” Mr. Drainville said during a press scrum in parliament.

There are many reasons for a student’s repeated absences from school. Disengagement from school, anxiety, but also sometimes trips organized by the family while school is open.

Since the pandemic, attendance has been a real problem, a teacher from a Montreal elementary school testified to The Press. She has seen students who only come to school four days a week, or even three.

” It’s hell. I have a student who arrived in October,” she said, adding that she has already seen a child who had great learning difficulties miss days of school to go south with his family.

On this last point, the Minister of Education sent a message to parents.

When school is open, the priority must be school.

the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville

“Once you call the parents and ask them what’s going on with your child, at that point it’s up to the parents to […] take over. It’s teamwork between the school and parents to ensure that our children are as diligent as possible at school,” added Mr. Drainville.

The minister then defended himself from wanting to “shovel the issue of absenteeism into the parents’ backyard”. He recalled the initiatives put in place by the government to make school even more attractive, in particular by investing to combat bullying, by renovating and building schools, but also by increasing special educational programs.

“The first educators are the parents. And here, I’m not trying to shovel this into the parents’ backyard, but it’s a fact. It’s factual. Parents have a very important role to play. The school and the parents must work together and if the parents cannot do it, I invite them to seek help,” he said.

With Marie-Eve Morasse, The Press

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