Quebec Studies

The Cegeps: An Introduction to Québec's Colleges

Quebec Studies (1986), 4, (1), 51–70.


THE CEGEPS: AN INTRODUCHON TO QUEBEC'SCOLLEGES Wcston Donchowcr At the hcart of the Quict Rcvolution, that pcriod of profound social and cultural changc, lay educational rcform. Bccause this rcform bccamc onc of thc cngincs of thc Quict Revolution, undcrstanding it lcads to a fuller comprehension of what happcncd in Qubbcc during thc 1960s and 1970s. The importancc of educational changc to larger socictal transformations is underscored by Rogcr Magnuson: "Of all changing social conditions in Qucbcc in the 1960's, nonc epitomized the Quiet Rcvolution morc than thc school rcform."' Similarly, a govcrnmcnt White Papcr in 1978 statcd: "On nc pcut 6voqucr I'histoirc rbccnte d u dbvcloppemcnt culturcl d u Qukbcc sans fairc large place A I'bducation, plus particulihcmcnt A la rdformc scolairc dcs annbcs 60."* While this rcform touchcd virtually all lcvcls of cducation from elcmcntary to univcrsity, it also crcatcd a ncw institution, the CEGEP (French acronym for CoII2p d'mseignmmt ginha1 et professionnel, or in English, Gcncral and Vocational Collcgc). In providing both the cxclusivc path to univcrsity studies and post-secondary tcrminal vocational/ tcchnical training, thc Ccgcp is uniquc in North America, and pcrhaps thc world. Callcd by onc promincnt Qucbcccr "lc joyau de la rbforme scolairc au Qubbcc," the Ccgcp systcm now is almost 20 ycars old and is composed of 44 nondcnominational public collcgcs offering frcc cducation in most regions of Q ~ b b e c . ~Thc purpose of this paper is to cxaminc thc Ccgcp in its historical context a s a creation of thc Quict Revolution's cducational rcform and to highlight some strcngths and wcakncsscs of thc systcm a s Qudbcc m o w s out of a pcriod of intcnsc political and cultural nationalism.

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Author details

Donehower, Weston