New Brunswick’s French education plan not moving forward

New Brunswick’s French education plan not moving forward

The New Brunswick government has done an about-face when it comes to French language instructions in the province.

In a news release Friday, Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Bill Hogan said the province would not proceed with a proposed 50/50 framework where students would spend half of their day taking instruction in English and the remainder of their day in French.

“I really thought the framework we announced was a great idea,” Hogan told reporters. “I still think that in certain cases it could work really well, however, what we found out was that it’s not in the best interest of all our children .”

The minister said that in light of the changes, French immersion registration will be reopened for Grade 1 students.

Public consultations on the government’s proposal held over the past several weeks were both combative and divisive, with many of those participating objecting to the 50/50 proposal.

A summary of results from the consolations will be released in “the early spring.”

The province says a stakeholder group will be established to determine what happens next.

The group will consist of the New Brunswick Teacher’s Association, experts within the education system and parents.

“This is not the end, but the beginning of what will be positive and lasting change,” said Hogan in a Friday news release.

Parents across New Brunswick who came out in the thousands during the consultations are pleased to see the results.

“This is a wonderful step. I am relieved that the voices of the people were heard by the premier and by Minister Hogan,” said parent Christina Robichaud. “We could not be happier.”

While pleased with the decision, the opposition is concerned about what’s next.

“Obviously there are still challenges in our school system and that was very clear from the consultation,” said Megan Mitton, Green Party MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar.

“We heard from teachers, we heard from experts, we heard from parents, so now’s the time to make investments in our schools, make improvements that we heard about in consultations.”

The group Canadian Parents for French says it now plans to focus on initiatives supporting French immersion instead of advocating for it.

“With regard to offering tutoring services and any other programs that we’re able to bring from experience and the rest of Canada into New Brunswick to help out and bridge that gap,” said Chris Collins, executive director of Canadian Parents for French New Brunswick .

With files from The Canadian Press.