Ottawa to spend $31M for French education initiatives

Ottawa to spend $31M for French education initiatives

Canadian Parents for French on P.E.I. is applauding a new pool of money announced by Ottawa to help with the recruitment and retention of French as a second language and French immersion teachers.

The federal government has set aside $31.3 million to be spent over the next four years on the national strategy.

While the situation is not a crisis on P.E.I. like in some other regions, teacher supply has been an issue for a number of years, said Gail Lecky, executive director of Canadian Parents for French on P.E.I.

"This funding will make it a priority now with the departments of education across Canada."

Project proposals will be accepted to address recruitment or retention activities for French education initiatives.

"The funding is also available to community groups. So, groups like ours can also apply for funding for projects. We would probably look at things like promotion."

Not enough people studying to teach French

Lecky said many students are taking French immersion, but not enough people are getting their academic credentials to teach French specifically.

"We've had really almost a 50 per cent increase in students taking French immersion," she said

Not enough people are learning French and teaching it, but Lecky said she believes a good initiative would be to boost the number of students in UPEI's Bachelor of Education French program.

"We need somehow to get the message out that teaching French is a great job."

Island doing well, but needs improvement

Lecky said many positions vacated by French teachers departing P.E.I. have been filled by qualified educators. However, the province could be doing better, she said.

"There are a number of positions filled with teachers that perhaps don't have the language skills that they need. So that's one of the things that has kind of come to light already."

Lecky said the money from Ottawa is being spent over four years and is for projects across the country, but she is confident there will be some impact on P.E.I.

"I think it will allow us the opportunity to take a step back and analyze and gather some data and find out exactly what it is that we need in order to either grow our own teachers or attract our teachers."

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