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Thousands of students walk out in Quebec

By Daniel Paquet, People's Weekly World, 30 November 1996

QUEBEC, Canada - More than 20 colleges were involved in a student strike this month in Quebec, the second largest province of Canada.

Altogether 80,000 students joined the student action. Most of them were members of the Quebec Federation of College Students which represents 11 local associations; another union, the Movement for the Right to Education, joins three associations. All of them were opposed to the possible rise of tuition fees at the post-secondary level.

They wanted to preserve free education at this level, said a spokesperson for the college students, Claire Andre. In Canada, education is under the authority of its 10 provinces, including Quebec. Education is organized in such a manner that there are high schools, colleges and then universities.

On Nov. 18, the Minister of Education, Pauline Marois, announced that the tuition fees are going to be frozen as long as the Parti Quebequois remains in power for the present term (one and one-half years to go). Up to now, there were no negotiations with the Quebec government. Seven million people inhabit Quebec; 82 percent are French-Canadians.

It costs $1,000 a semester to study in Quebec. This is lower than the rest of Canada and the United States; however, it was part of a program to develop resources among the youth; Quebec lagging largely behind in North America.

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