Quebec Education Ministry does not know how many tutors have applied or been hired to help struggling students

The Ministry of Education is unable to draw even a preliminary portrait of the tutoring program that was announced on Jan. 8 and launched on Jan. 27 by Minister Jean-Francois Roberge.

A month later, it is still unclear how many candidates have registered to become tutors on the "Answer Present" platform or how many of them have been hired.

It is also unclear how many students have been referred for tutoring, and how many hours of tutoring have been offered so far.

The information is not yet available, public relations officer Bryan St-Louis said after multiple requests from The Canadian Press.

He claimed to be awaiting data.

The new tutoring program designed by Quebec is meant to help students who have been struggling since the start of the pandemic.

It is set to continue until June 2022.

School staff, substitutes, retirees from the school network as well as college and university students had until February 19 to express their interest in becoming a tutor.

It remains unclear whether a teacher can become a tutor to a student in his or her class.

In principle, tutoring should be done online, bringing together small groups of students each week who have been identified by their teachers.

Individual help may also be available.

SILENCE MEANS BAD NEWS

The program does not seem to have really started in all regions, according to Sherbrooke MNA Christine Labrie of the Liberal Party.

"I did not know of any teachers who told me that they had been in contact with a tutor for a student in their class, or that there were students in their class or their school who were having tutoring services right now," she said. "If Minister of Education Jean-Francois Roberge is late in making information on tutoring public, it may be because things are not going very well.

"The fact that he does not send us any data on that, I see it as a clue that it is not going as well as he wanted because otherwise he would be proud of it and he would tell us."

She added that the CAQ government was quick to boast when it put a call out for patient attendants in the health-care network, which prompted huge numbers of candidates.

"So if they don't tell us about the tutoring program, that leads me to believe that the answer is not there as they wanted," Labrie.

EXPAND RECRUITMENT

The former lecturer at the University of Sherbrooke believes that Quebec should open the possibility to working teachers to register to be tutors of their own students.

"We would have more interest," said Labrie.

And why not extend the recruitment to other people?

"I, for example, could not register as a tutor at the moment. There are plenty of people who would be interested and who can't register," she added.

Liberal education critic Marwah Rizqy added that the situation is not "normal," especially considering that the needs in the network are enormous.

"It is also not normal that when we look at the amount dedicated for schools in terms of additional assistance, it looks like an envelope of around $2,000 per establishment," she said. "It is clearly insufficient. If I put myself in a school of 600 students, what do we do with $2,000?"

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021. 

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