November 13, 2017 4:49 pm
Updated: November 13, 2017 4:53 pm

French-language education at risk: Partners for Education

Immersion students in St. James School Division, and those in all other divisions, could be affected by Ministry of Education restructuring.

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A group representing public schools in Manitoba said Monday that recent actions by the province will adversely affect 30,000 students.

Partners for French Education is made up of the Manitoba Teachers Society (MTS), Division Franco-Manitobaine, Societe de la Francophonie Manitobaine and the Federation des Parents du Manitoba.

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The group said in a statement Nov. 13 that the quality of education for French students in K – 12 will suffer as a result of recent cuts to French programming by the province, specifically, the ‘gutting of the Bureau de l’Education Francaise’ (BEF) and cutting of its Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM).

“French-language education is not simply the translation of English education,” Norm Gould, president o the Manitoba Teachers Society said. “It’s a unique educational and cultural experience with a curriculum of its own. A fully functioning BEF is essential to the quality of French-language education that Manitoba teachers and schools provide to students,” Gould said.

It’s not the first time alarm bells have rung relating to education funding.

RELATED: Winnipeg School Division warns of cuts after education funding announcement

But this time, the focus is specifically on French-language education.

A spokesperson for the Manitoba Teachers Society said Monday that they have not received any formal notice of funding changes, but have observed very disturbing trends, including the loss of the Assistant Deputy Minister position, that will undoubtedly affect the 5,000 students in Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine and 25,000 French-Immersion students across all other school divisions in the province.

MTS staff said there are 185,000 students in Manitoba, with at least 30,000 enrolled in French-language programs.  The Department of Education’s own reports show that French Immersion enrolment has increased 40 per cent in the past ten years, raising questions as to why funding would be reduced. They said the Minister of Education confirmed departmental restructuring last week.

Partners for Education have issued a letter to the premier seeking a meeting to discuss what they call the devaluing of French education.  They are calling for the reinstatement of government funding for the Bureau de l’Education Francaise and re-appointment of an Assistant Deputy Minister.

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