About Legal Education


What Is Legal Education?

Legal education means not only learning about laws, but also encouraging respect for the rule of law and fundamental principles of justice built into international human rights treaties. (Compass – A Manual on Human Rights Education with Young People, Council of Europe.)

The legal education of 12-17 year-olds has been an integral part of Éducaloi’s mission for the last ten years. This is why we offer our youth clientele a wide range of information and learning tools about the law, including our Youth Zone website and a Facebook page (in French only).

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Also, since schools are perfect partners for helping us carry out our legal education mission, Éducaloi offers teachers and other education professionals resources to integrate legal content into the classroom from Grade 6 to Secondary 5.

All these initiatives help young people learn about the law and its impact on their daily lives.

We strongly believe that citizens need more than knoweldge about the law. They also need the skill to recognize the legal dimensions of everday situations and the confidence to stand up for their rights. In other words, an essential part of legal education is what we call “legal capability”.


Our Mission: Developing the Legal Capability of Young Citizens

Being an active and informed citizen is a complex learning process that requires theoretical knowledge, but also practical skills and a certain outlook.

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For example, take another complex learning experience for young people: learning to drive.

Everyone agrees that this requires learning some basic concepts: knowing the rules of the road, understanding road signs, etc.

Driving also takes certain habits and techniques: how to check your blind spot, how to perform basic maneouvers, etc.  

This learning process fosters attitudes and behaviours appropriate for driving: confidence behind the wheel, caution, showing respect for other drivers, patience, self-control, etc.

Being an engaged and responsible citizen raises similar challenges. For Éducaloi, legal education is not just about learning about laws: it includes developing skills and attitudes that allow people to recognize the legal dimension of situations so they can make informed decisions, handle conflicts and, ultimately, prevent legal problems.


Law in Schools

There are many reasons that schools are the ideal context for legal education activities:

  • Part of a school’s mission is to shape citizens.
  • Teaching about the law helps meet many of the goals of the Quebec Education Program.
  • At school, children learn to socialize, live with others, respect rules and resolve conflicts.

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Many key education documents refer to citizenship and legal education, in particular Quebec’s Education Act and the Quebec Education Program.

In a society like ours that is governed by the rule of law, educators can play a key role in the citizenship and legal education of young Quebecers. They can help students

  • learn about the rights and responsibilities of citizens,
  • understand our important social institutions, and
  • learn about democratic values, including equality, justice, tolerance of diversity, self-respect and respect for others.


Legal Education in Schools: Quebec and Elsewhere

In most Canadian provinces, high schools offer legal education in grades 11 and 12. In fact, Grade 10 students must take an obligatory civics course. There are also legal education courses in many other countries, including England and the United States.   

There is no mandatory law course in Quebec, but certain schools offer optional courses in law. Éducaloi applauds this, but we also think that all Quebec students should have a basic understanding of the law by the time they leave high school.

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Luckily, there is a way to link legal education activities to many subject areas in the Quebec Education Program. This can be done while respecting the subject-specific competencies and other requirements for each subject. For over a decade, Éducaloi has been creating teaching materials to help educators talk about the law and our justice system with their students.

Languages and social studies are an especially good fit with legal education. Courses in these fields in the Quebec curriculum include:

  • History and Citizenship Education,
  • Ethics and Religious Culture,
  • English Language Arts, and
  • Français, langue seconde.

Remember also that citizenship education is one of the “broad areas of learning”, so all educators are responsible for creating learning opportunities in this area.