As high school students, we are acutely aware of the direction that Quebec has been veering towards in the course of the past few years. We know it too well : it is the only project that the government has presented to us in our lifetime. We know that public services are increasingly neglected, we know that students and patients are now addressed as “clients”, that attaining zero deficit seems to be our sole priority; that, in spite of the terrifying data that continue to surface, protecting the environment that we are to live in is the last item on the list.
Public education is one of the greatest victims of this devastating state of mind. As students, we are afraid. Following the knowledge that accessible education forms the basis of an egalitarian society, we are questioning – and not lightly – the government’s current choices. Education is the toolkit that will help us get by in life. It’s what will make of us real citizens. It’s what will give us the power and motivation to act and to question. It is by virtue of our education that we have found the words to write to you today.
In a world in which we often feel impotent (particularly us young people) with regards to our leaders’ decisions, it is our only means. Often forgotten, possibly even scorned, the public system allows for everyone to have access to this beautiful thing that is education. Yet this very public system is bearing the brunt of our government’s mandate. And believe us, like you, we are in the right place to see how the education system is being affected by government cuts and everything that’s being imposed upon you.
Cuts to services, modifications to the student-teacher ratio, increases in your workload, the devaluation of your mission: in essence, the general deterioration of your working conditions… All these issues will only further exhaust you at a time when the work you are asked to do is already superlative. We are aware of it daily.
In a context where private secondary education is gaining ground and where budgetary imbalances between the two systems are more keenly felt, to make the public system even more vulnerable should be unthinkable. It’s actually irresponsible. We are declaring our solidarity with your struggle firstly as defenders of the public system. We cannot stress this enough: your work conditions are our own learning conditions. But that is not the only reason. It’s mostly that we know you and we know that you are driven by the sincere mission to contribute to our own development and, by that very fact, to the development of tomorrow’s society. We know that you fully believe in the importance of what you do. We can’t help but be exceedingly proud to see you being moved by these values – out in the streets, this time –, to watch you lead a fight waged mostly on our behalf. We will stop here because today is your turn to speak up and take your own stand, you who are so often in the shadows. We stand behind you.
Translated from the original French by Language and Dissent, a collectively-run blog supporting the anti-austerity struggle in Quebec. These are amateur translations written by volunteers; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may have their flaws. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us via email (languageanddissent [at] gmail [dot] com). Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.