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Francophone Education

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About the francophone school
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There’s something very important you should know about francophone schools. It’s what makes them different from other schools, including those that offer French immersion, and contributes greatly to your child’s educational success.

It’s this: the dominant language in a francophone school has to be French. In fact, it must be the main language of communication at all levels of the school system. It’s the language that most staff members speak almost all the time (with the possible exception of English teachers and support staff) and that students are expected and encouraged to speak. You’ll find some of the reasons behind this on pages 112–117 of Fusion.

What if you don’t speak French?

But what if you’re a parent who doesn’t speak French? How can you possibly help out in a classroom where only French is spoken? How can you sit on a parent council when all the discussions occur in French? How can you accompany students on outings that require knowledge of French? For that matter, how can you participate in any school activity that takes place in French if you don’t speak the language?

Come to think of it, why would you even want to enrol or keep your child in a francophone school if you couldn’t participate in a meaningful way in his or her education?

This goes to the very heart of one of the most complex issues facing Canada’s minority francophone education system: how to strike a balance between the need to maintain a French atmosphere in the school and the desire to integrate non-French-speaking parents into the school community.

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How school boards handle it reflects the importance they place on parents’ involvement. For instance, some boards consult parents more than others. Some centralize all decision-making power, others delegate. Some have made this issue a top priority, but others have yet to do so despite losing students to the anglophone system year after year.

One particularly proactive board is Saskatchewan’s Conseil des écoles fransaskoises (CÉF), which has undertaken the global approach I've developed in order to tackle this challenge. Over the next several years, the CÉF will be implementing a series of policies and procedures based on the priorities identified by parents (both francophone and non-francophone), teachers, students, administrators and elected officials.

Working together

You’re right, I’ve just shamelessly promoted my services. But this issue is real, and school boards that fail to tackle it in partnership with parents and other stakeholders are risking their very future.

So while I’ll be the first to say that French must be the dominant language in any francophone school, I also will not hesitate to tell non-French-speaking parents they have a place in that school, too. It’s only by tackling this double-edged challenge together that we’ll find lasting solutions!

 
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