We are launching a broad call-out to all organizations and people: migrants and non-migrants, involved in the education system or otherwise, in personal contact with people who are undocumented in our communities or not. This is an invitation to increase pressure to force the hand of decision makers by organizing a variety of actions, including distruptive ones, either with the Education Across Borders Collective or autonomously.
For more than two years, the Education Across Borders Collective of Solidarity Across Borders has been struggling to put an end to a great injustice facing undocumented children. Many are excluded from free public education – and too often from schools themselves – by the administrative demands of the Quebec government. Those affected, like many other people who have migrated to North America, are forced into highly vulnerable positions by increasingly inhospitable systems of immigration and assylum. Among provinces and American states with large immigrant populations, Quebec is the one which imposes the most barriers to the free education of undocumented children.
Currently, only legal residents and certain categories of migrants have access to free preschool, primary and secondary education. Other students are refused registration or changed annual fees of $5000-6000, which families are often incapable of paying. This reality will continue until there are guarantees of equality: until education is accepted as a universal right, regardless of immigration status.
The government of Quebec and their Ministry of Education refuse to make the necessary changes. Consious of this systematic discrimination, they allow it to continue. This intollerable injustice shows a great lack of concern for the dignity of immigrant families. While we were occupying the office of Marie Malavoy, on December 10th, 2013, the minister declared publicly that “solutions [had] been found […] in each of the problematic cases brought to the attention of the minister,” thus admitting that there continue to be cases in which it is necessary to have ministerial intervention in order to have access to free schooling. People continue to be excluded by government demands that families present documents that some don’t have, mainly to show their immigration status, and by charging exorbitant fees. Families are thus expected to disclose their extremely precarious situation, in the hopes of receiving favourable treatment, case by case, by their schools, school boards, and the ministry.
Cases whereby children and teenagers are excluded or billed thousands of dollars per year continue to be brought to the attention of the Education Across Borders Collective. The law on public education must be changed in order for it to be possible to simply provide a proof of living in a particular area in order to have free accress to school, like in many other countries.
Since last April’s election, we asked all members of the National Assembly to endorse our demand that access to education be detatched from immigration status. We furthermore urged the Quebec Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion to act, and also requested a meeting with Education Minister Bolduc. No response has been given.
A call to action
It is time to take our actions to the next level.
The struggle for access to universal education must not continue to be ignored.
The struggle for universal education does not belong to the Education Across Borders Collective, but to all those who are offended by this scandalous situation and by the continued inaction of those who have a some power, small or large, in public affairs.
The situation must change before the school year advances much farther.
The walls of schools must cease to be borders like those used by countries to exclude people whose origins are elsewhere.
If you would like to coordinate your planned actions with ours, contact us by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 438-933-7654.
Please also contact us if you have ideas and would like to lend a hand.
For more information on the struggle, check out other pages of this website.