EQLC fills important education niche in Quebec-region

EQLC fills important education niche in Quebec-region

Main pic: Susan Faguy – Director of the Eastern Québec Learning Centre. Photo credit: Mitch Vandenborn.

Mitch Vandenborn interviews Susan Faguy, Director of the Eastern Québec Learning Centre.

Between classes at the Eastern Québec Learning Centre (EQLC), a group of students wearing blue medical scrubs stand in the hallway, chatting in French, switching to English, and then flipping back again.

The group represents the makeup of the student body at EQLC and the role the school serves in the community as the only English-language adult high school in the Quebec City region.

As an adult high school, students can come to EQLC for general education courses to complete their high school diplomas, as well as training in vocational programs and language courses.

Although it’s an adult high school, it’s not only for adults.

Susan Faguy has been the director of the school since 2010 and she said the demographics of the class vary in each program.

In the general education courses, she said students are usually between the ages of 16 and 18 but can also include adults.

“Sometimes what happens with the adults is that they started working and didn’t finish their high school diploma,” she said. “Now they’re between jobs and they want to finish because they’d like to re-skill in a training program.”

As an adult high school, Law 101 that mandates French as the language of education doesn’t apply. Students older than 16 can choose to continue their studies at the EQLC in English.

Faguy said she believes this is important for recently-arrived immigrants and their children. She said they often already speak English as a second language but may not be able to excel at a French-language school.

“In Quebec, even if you can speak English, you might not be able to survive,” she said. “But at least if you wanted to train in English because that’s your second language, you can do that here.”

About 200 students a year enroll in the school’s general education courses, while roughly 100 are in the school’s vocational training programs.

Like many education programs in the province, tuition fees are low, with the main costs for students being course materials. Currently, the school offers programs in nursing assistance, hotel reception management, secretarial studies and entrepreneurship.

Although Faguy said they would like to offer more programs, adding new ones depends on the demand the school receives for them. Faguy said each program needs a group of 16 to 18 students and seeing that many ask for a new program at the same time doesn’t happen often.

If they do not offer a certain program, the school tries to provide options to the student.

“We’re in a unique situation in Quebec City because most people who come to study here are bilingual,” she said.

Because of their bilingualism, Faguy said if the student is looking for a certain vocational program that they don’t offer, they will refer them to a francophone adult high school that does.

The need for more skilled trade workers in Canada is a frequent topic of conversation in the media, but despite a push from the federal government to get more students into vocational programs, Faguy said she believes that there is still a societal bias against trades-based education.

“I guess back in the old days, if you weren’t an intellectual, you were sort of pushed towards the trades,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that if you’re a tradesman, you’re a dummy.”

Faguy related a story about when she recently attended a principal’s meeting to discuss vocational training, and where she raised the point about the role skilled tradespeople play in the construction of the Amphithéâtre de Québec.

“No vocational training, no Amphithéâtre,” she said. “If you took away everyone with vocational training, you’d still have your engineers and your architects but you wouldn’t have a building.”

Skilled and often bilingual, EQLC graduates often find themselves filling a specialized role in the city, much like the school does itself.

For more information you can contact:

Eastern Québec Learning Centre
3005, rue William-Stuart
Québec (Québec) G1W 1V4
Tel: (418) 654-0537

Categories: Opinion

About Author

Mitch Vandenborn

Originally from southern Ontario, Mitch Vandenborn moved to Quebec City in September 2014 to improve his French. It's still a work in a progress. Mitch studied journalism at Carleton University, Ottawa and has worked in writing and communications for several years. He's also a frequent Tweeter: @mitchvandy

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