Télé-Québec creates educational content in collaboration with province

Parents and their kids in Quebec have another learning option: educational content created by Télé-Québec, in collaboration with Quebec's Education Ministry.

With schools closed, public educational network makes classes for primary, secondary and daycare-aged kids

Children are out of school in Quebec until at least May to contain the spread of COVID-19. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Parents and their kids in Quebec will soon have another learning option: educational content created by Télé-Québec, in collaboration with Quebec's Education Ministry.

The shows, hosted by the public educational French-language network, will be available online and on TV starting April 13.

There are three options: one for kids still in daycare and pre-K programs, another for children in elementary school and a third for students in secondary school.

Full details are available on Télé-Québec's website.

The new material comes a week after the province launched Open School, a website where parents can find resources to tutor their children in everything from math and science to daily physical exercise.

According to Télé-Québec President Marie Collin, the content was made in consultation with some of the province's teachers and education professionals. 

She said that, aside from educating students, the programs will also aim to soothe some of the anxiety children may be feeling because of COVID-19. 

"Our hosts are very comforting," said Collin. 

The idea, she said, is not to talk about COVID-19 in the programming, but to show the children that their lives can go on even though school is cancelled and things may seem different to them.

Lack of English frustrates some

The announcement did not come without criticism. 

Guy Rodgers, executive director of the English Language Arts Network, denounced the fact that the new programs will be entirely in French. 

"Télé-Québec is funded by Quebec taxpayer's dollars and it should be telling stories about all Quebecers which includes the English-speaking community," said Rodgers. 

"I think a lot of anglos would be very happy to avail themselves of that content and Télé-Québec could begin to establish an English-speaking viewership on their channel." 

Though the new programming is funded by the province's education ministry, Collin said there was simply no time to create English programming. 

She said all of the programs were put together within two weeks. 

"But I think anglophone children could really improve their skills in french by watching the shows and doing the exercises," she said. 

Collin stressed that Télé-Québec's mandate with the CRTC is to provide viewers with French programming. 

Not a snub, Copeman says

Russell Copeman, the head of the Quebec English School Board Association, did not see the announcement as a snub to the English-speaking community. He felt it was just a question of logistics. 

"We don't have the equivalent of Télé-Québec in English in Quebec," Copeman said. 

Russell Copeman is the executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association. He says the French programming is not a snub to the English community. (CBC)

In order to fill that void, Copeman said the province's English school boards are working with the education ministry to adapt weekly learning packages for their students. 

Quebec has closed all schools until at least May 1 as part of efforts to contain COVID-19.

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge has already said there will be no provincial exams this year, and if classes do not resume before June, students will be evaluated based on their grades so far this school year.

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