June 21st, 2024

New Brunswick halts controversial overhaul of French immersion in province’s schools

By The Canadian Press on February 17, 2023.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs delivers the State of the Province address in Fredericton, N.B. on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. New Brunswick says it will not move ahead with its controversial French-language education reform following widespread public criticism of the plan to reduce French teaching in schools. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

FREDERICTON – The New Brunswick government says it will not move ahead with a French-language education reform planned for this fall following widespread public criticism of the plan to reduce French teaching.

Progressive Conservative Premier Blaine Higgs had previously proposed cutting the hours that kindergarten and elementary students in the English system spend learning in French – from about 90 per cent of the day in French immersion to 50 per cent.

Education Minister Bill Hogan said in a statement today that the plan is being reversed after hearing from nearly 13,000 New Brunswickers who participated in consultation sessions over the past month.

The government says it will establish a group representing the provincial teachers associations, experts from the education system and parents in order to decide the next steps.

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

Hogan says that despite the reversal, he still feels the existing French immersion program isn’t meeting standards, and the province’s goal remains to ensure that all high school graduates are equipped with conversational French.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2023.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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