|EMSB ADOPTS MULTICULTURAL/MULTIRACIAL EDUCATION POLICY|
MONTREAL, SEPTEMBER 25, 2001– Expressions of racial and/or ethnocultural harassment, stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination in any form are unacceptable, a newly adopted English Montreal School Board (EMSB) Multicultural/Multiracial Education Policy states.
"This school board will neither condone nor tolerate such expressions," emphasized EMSB Chairman Dr. John Simms. "Through appropriate personnel, we intend to ensure that racial, ethnic, religious, cultural and gender biases, including stereotyping, discrimination and prejudice are addressed conscientiously within all Board policies, programs and activities."
EMSB Director of Community Services Dr. Horace Goddard, who drafted the policy, said that the EMSB intends to collect statistical data related to the ethnocultural composition of the student population and staff to support the development of policies, programs and practices sensitive and responsive to the multicultural/multiracial reality and needs of the school network. Furthermore, the EMSB will promote and encourage extra-curricular activities and the acquisition of materials which will enable individual cultural development and intergroup cultural sharing among the diverse groups comprising the school boardnetwork.
"All schools will be encouraged to develop methods to demonstrate visibly to their communities and the public at large their commitment to the concept of multicultural/ multiracial education," said Dr. Goddard. "The EMSB recognizes the contribution of the various cultural, racial, ethnic and religious communities within the Board, and is committed to a multicultural/multiracial education which would enable students, parents, administrators, support staff and commissioners to learn to live together in a pluralistic society."
Dr. Simms said that he hopes to see a continuation of the EMSB promoting a school environment that allows each student an equal opportunity for individual academic success and personal development. "It is important to recognize the legitimate right of every student to experience an education that respects all racial, religious and cultural perspectives as noted in Canadian and Quebec laws," he said.
Dr. Goddard added that there will also be a focus on the promotion of activities allowing each student to acquire an understanding and appreciation of his or her cultural heritage. This will enable that individual to retain an appropriate sense of belonging to a particular community, as well as a sense of belonging to Québec and to Canada.
The Board will encourage schools and centres to promote, facilitate and/or provide, where possible, extra-curricular activities directed at intercultural group awareness and understanding. Partnerships will be established and/or further developed with community groups. The Board will encourage school and community organizations, principals, centre directors and local commissioners to work with parents in the community to develop opportunities for the discussion of different values, expectations and cultural norms and to provide forums for parents of common cultural or linguistic backgrounds to share common concerns. A liaison will be maintained with other school boards in Québec and Canada, community and parent groups in the province, and government agencies which are committed to the improvement of race relations.
The policy also calls for the Board to encourage and promote understanding of and sensitivity towards the diversity of cultures present in Quebec and Canada and reflected in its schools. With this in mind the Board plans to assist in the establishment of measures to support the retention of language and culture. In cooperation with ethnic and cultural communities or parent groups, this will include extending its support and encouragement of third language programs.
Schools and centres will be urged to create and maintain environments for learning which are free of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination and plan for activities promoting multiracial and multicultural understanding. The Pedagogical Services Department of the EMSB, for instance, will support and provide leadership and coordinate the development of curriculum that incorporates objectives consistent with this policy.
Dr. Simms said that the EMSB intends to pursue continuous dialogue with the Ministry of Education to ensure the development and establishment of appropriate policies, programs and resource support for staff training which would prepare all staff, both pre-service and in-service to work sensitively and knowledgeably with Quebec’s multicultural/multiracial student population. Discussions will also be held with faculties of education at local universities in order to encourage mandatory studies for student teachers to prepare them for multicultural/multiracial classrooms.
Michael J. Cohen