Québec around 1980

Learning in a modern Quebec

In the 1980s, education was much more accessible in Quebec than it had been in 1905. The 1943 Law on Education had made going to school compulsory for children aged 6 to 14 years old and made sure that elementary school was free for all. In 1964, the government created the Ministry of Education which replaced the Church in controlling the educational system.

The government also created a loans and bursaries program which loaned money to needy students. In addition, Quebec students were obliged to attend school until they were 16 years old. This meant that most students finished high school. The following is an example of Anne’s academic path. It should help you to understand what it was like for students living in this new system:

See video in French at http://primaire.recitus.qc.ca/sujets/13/vie-quotidienne/3978

Elementary school and high school

Annie was born in 1969 in La Baie in the Saguenay region. When she was 5 years old, she started elementary school near her home. When her six years of elementary school were completed, Annie started high school at La Baie Polyvalent. This large school brought together hundreds of students from all over the region.  Annie spent five years at this school completing her high school diploma. Hee friend Jacques stayed an extra year to finish a professional diploma in welding. He found a job as a welder as soon as his studies were completed.


Annie then enrolled in CEGEP de Jonquière. CEGEPS were created in 1968. Quebec is the only Canadian province that has CEGEPs. Annie followed a pre-university program in Pure and Applied Science because she wanted to go on to study at university. Isabelle, Annie’s best friend, enrolled in a technical program in Social Work. This kind of program lasts for three years, and when students graduate, they can work in their field of study without having to go to university.


Annie was then accepted by the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi in the Engineering programme. She was really happy to be able to do her studies in the Saguenay region without having to move to Montreal or Quebec. Thanks to the creation of a network of universities by Université du Québec (en 1968) and the opening of universities in various regions throughout Quebec, thousands of Quebeckers have done like Annie and been able to study near to where they were born and grew up. This being said, many students from Indigenous communities did not have this privilege. Even in 2020, many Indigenous students have to choose between life in their community or attending post-secondary education in another region of the province that is far away from their family and friends.

Author:  Alexandre Lanoix. Additions and adaptations by LEARN. 

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