Mandatory recreations: Minister Roberge acts as a “cowboy”
The president of the Commission scolaire des Draveurs (CSD), Claude Beaulieu, does not hesitate to describe the approach of the Minister of Education Jean-Francois Roberge of “cowboy” in the matter of the imposition of two recreations compulsory at least 20 minutes each in primary schools in the fall.
“Basically, the principle of getting the students moving, everyone agrees with that. Except that you have to give the right time. The approach he takes is one of cowboy. There are two periods of recreation, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, but in the legislation [Régime pédagogique de l’éducation], we do not talk about active recreation, we talk about periods of relaxation. For example, students can read a book in the classroom. This is a shame because the public believes that students will move more with this change requested by the ministry. It would have been necessary to speak specifically of active recreation. We impose that by making believe that the students will be much more active, “he says.
Last February, Minister Roberge announced that the Basic school regulation for preschool, elementary and secondary education will be amended so that, as soon as the next school year, children will benefit from a minimum of 20 minutes of morning and afternoon recess, a principle that is not in effect in many schools across the province. No minimum duration is required, according to the current rules.
Quebec argues that “the beneficial effects of recreation are widely documented and that these periods of relaxation allow children to play freely outdoors and be physically active, which promotes a healthy school climate and concentration in the classroom.”
Mr. Beaulieu reiterated that we can not be against virtue, but that community stakeholders, such as school boards and teachers, should have been consulted further before making this decision.
“All school boards must review their transportation offer, there are several adjustments to schedules in schools. There is also the whole issue of collective agreements. Sometimes it’s the teachers who have to do the monitoring. And with climate change, we want to get the students moving, but if the yard is covered with ice, we can not do much. […] For our part, at the CSD, there are still some schools that must make changes by the fall, “he added.
According to a survey conducted by the Quebec Coalition on the problem of weight in the margin of the publication in 2017 of the report “Turning health at school, 10 years later”, 18% of schools provide for only one recreation per day, while two out of five schools (39%) do not offer at least 15 minutes of recreation twice a day. According to respondents, 80% of the equipment in preschool and elementary schools is “in good or very good condition”.