International Update

Quebec Extends Deadline for Halting Religious Instruction

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Quebec officials have given faith-based schools a second lengthy extension before they have to stop teaching religion.

Primary and secondary schools in the Canadian province had been divided under Roman Catholic and Protestant boards since the 1860s, until a 1998 law restructured them with French and English boards. Many schools, however, have continued to be religion-based after being granted an extension by the Quebec government. The extension, which was set to expire this year, was granted to give schools more time to replace the religion curriculum with ethics and religious-culture classes. The new, three-year extension gives the schools until the 2008-09 school year to switch to the new curriculum. The rule applies to government and private schools.

“We live in a plural society,” said Quebec’s education minister, Jean-Marc Fournier, in a statement last month. “And it’s important that school can actively help youth learn knowledge and skills and attitudes that will help them throughout their lives … on a personal level and socially.”

School boards, teacher groups, and religious organizations support the move, according to news reports.

Vol. 24, Issue 41, Page 14

Published in Print: June 22, 2005, as Quebec Extends Deadline for Halting Religious Instruction

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