08/25/2014 02:10 EDT | Updated 10/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Undocumented children in Quebec barred from free education

As children across Quebec gear up for the start of the school year, close to 5,000 undocumented children in the province will be left behind, according to Education without Borders.

A week before most students head back to class, Education without Borders is calling on the Quebec Education Minister to modify the law to open up schools to all children living in Quebec.

MahaliaGarzonBoctor, 12, attended a news conference hosted by Education without Borders on Monday. 

She said it's not fair she may attend school in Quebec, while others are excluded.

"I believe that education is a right, not a privilege," she said. 

According to Education without Borders, many of Quebec's undocumented children are from families who were refused refugee status, but continued to live in the province, under the radar. 

Often those families can't afford the cost of sending their children to school in Quebec, which advocates say can range from $5,000 to $6,000 per year for undocumented children.

“This should be an important issue to anyone who cares about children, not only from a sympathetic perspective, but from an economic one, because these kids are going to grow up and Quebec needs an educated workforce,” said Malek Yalaoui, a member of Education without Borders.