Perspectives

Cuts in student enrolment in Ontario’s faculties of education are jeopardizing the quality of French-language education in minority settings in Canada

By Carol Jolin
March 6, 2015

For decades, French-language faculties of education in Ontario have been producing outstanding teachers. I am saying this not only as President of the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), but also as a parent and an observer. I have three children who received high quality education in French-language schools, and I have also noticed, through contacts with political, business and other stakeholders, that our young students become contributing members of society. They are well equipped for life thanks to the education they get in our French-language schools.

The AEFO has known for a long time that the Ontario Ministry of Education was planning to extend teacher education programs from one year to two. But when the Ministry announced its intention to reduce student enrolment by half, AEFO’s reaction was immediate: indeed, programs extended over two years combined with a 50% reduction in enrolment could impact on the recruitment of Francophone teachers.

This means that the very quality of French-language education is at stake, as the Ministry’s decision is likely to cause a shortage of qualified teachers. How? Even with a one-year program, many students in faculties of education take the program in Ontario and then return to their home province or territory once they have completed their studies. Also, school boards offering immersion programs, as well as provinces and territories which do not have French-language faculties of education, actively recruit our graduates. If there are less graduates, how will French-language schools in Ontario manage to maintain the delicate balance between supply and demand?

Another challenge is related to substitute teaching. Because some regions are already understaffed, schools have to fill their needs with substitute teachers. But how will schools be able to find qualified teachers once this pool of substitute teachers is exhausted?

I already have had the opportunity to talk about this with Education Minister Liz Sandals. And although the challenge is real, I firmly believe that through close cooperation, the AEFO, the Ministry of Education and school boards will be able to find potential solutions. After all, we all care about the future of our youth.

Carol Jolin is the President of the AEFO, which represents over 10,000 members.

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Perspectives web magazine is published by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent over 238,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada.

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