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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Quebec schools put to the test

Quebec is looking to improve the way religious, cultural and linguistic differences are integrated into its schools.

Education Minister Jean-Marc Fournier announced yesterday the creation of a committee to look into the principle of "reasonable accommodation," with a report due in June.

Bergman Fleury, an intercultural education consultant who worked for the Commission scolaire de Montreal, will head the panel of experts.

A key task will be to come up with a definition of "reasonable accommodation" that strikes a balance between personal convictions and the laws, values and traditions of Quebec.

"It's a matter of ensuring that all youth receive the education they are entitled to while respecting their convictions," Fournier told a news conference during a Liberal Party caucus meeting in Longueuil.

Part of the committee's mandate is to come up with guidelines and tools to help education officials meet increasingly complex demands without seeming insensitive or, worse, risk being hauled before the courts.

In one high-profile Montreal case, a Sikh boy went to the Supreme Court to win the right to carry a kirpan, or ceremonial dagger, at school. [Link]

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