Does Quebec’s exam rewrite history?

Anglo students must not consider Bill 101 when writing test

Historians are calling on Quebec to offer better questions on the History and Citizenship exams that Anglophone students must pass in order to graduate from CEGEP.

Sam Allison, a recently-retired history teacher, and Jon Bradley, an associate professor in Education at McGill University suggested in an editorial in the Montreal Gazette earlier this week that the test is extremely flawed. Here’s their argument:

First, English students are asked to use French-language documents to answer essay questions. What if they don’t read French?

Second, they’re asked to respond to questions with words that don’t translate into English like agriculturalism and cooperatism. Those words mean nothing to anglophones.

Finally, in one essay question, they are asked to consider the demographic changes that occurred in the twentieth century “in terms of immigration, migration within Quebec and natural growth.”

That means students are not to consider inter-provincial migration, which means that they are not to consider the effects of Bill 101, also known as the Charter of the French Language.

That bill had, arguably, a much greater impact on the province than other forms of migration. Bill 101 made French the only official language and put many restrictions on English-language schools and employment. Roughly 244,000 English speakers left Quebec in the 25 years following the passage of Bill 101, according to Statistics Canada. Many businesses moved to Toronto.

It’s an part of the province’s history that should not be ignored, write Allison and Bradley. “While many Quebecers may believe that studies of the province’s history should promote a nationalist perspective, this is far outweighed by the right of all children to have a balanced view of our past.”