French-language education in minority settings: National body of teachers urges for changes to curriculum development

May 27, 2008

(CTF News Service – Ottawa) A Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) report released today calls for significant changes in the manner in which curriculum is developed to close the gap that currently exists in elementary and secondary school curriculum with respect to minority French-language education. The CTF recommendations, stemming from a series entitled “Knowing one’s community” (http://www.ctf-fce.ca/apprendre/), were developed following years of analytical research, credible studies and input by key education partners.

“The realities of living, learning and teaching in minority communities differ substantially from those who live in majority settings," says CTF President Emily Noble. "Francophone minority schools have a dual mission -- they must provide all the basic educational experiences and they are expected to be the mainspring of survival and development of the Francophone communities.“

For his part, Paul Taillefer, Chair of CTF’s Advisory Committee on French as a First Language, adds: “According to our research, many of the provinces and territories simply translate the English curriculum into French thereby generating an educational vacuum for students in minority Francophone settings whose realities and culture are not mirrored in the curriculum or proposed delivery. Although minority Francophone teachers feel strongly committed to inspiring their students with the love of learning in French and a sense of belonging to the Francophonie, the report concludes that resources and support for teachers are sorely lacking as this dual mission translates into a number of workload challenges in the classroom.

We hope the information provided in the series will give decision leaders and policy-makers ideas for adopting new approaches and courses of action that will contribute to our common goal, which is to provide students with the best possible French-language education,” concludes Taillefer.

The project was developed by CTF in partnership with the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Citizenship and Minorities (CIRCEM) and thanks to financial support provided by Canadian Heritage.

Among others, recommendations include:

  • a call for a national research on the integration of culture and identity building in teaching through curricula;
  • the development of an educational resources development strategy to help build identities among students and provide classroom support to teachers;
  • the need to clearly define an image of the Francophone community that can be conveyed to students, along with suggestions on how to transmit this image to students at every grade level, in every subject matter;
  • a call for provinces and territories to assist teachers with delivery of the curriculum by providing them with ideas, examples, activities and references.

The recommendations (http://www.ctf-fce.ca/apprendre/) were released today in Ottawa at the Federation’s May 26-27 National Symposium attended by approximately 60 educators, teachers and education partners from across the country. This year’s symposium will also feature a special video that will launch a discussion on teenagers in Francophone minority settings, the theme and focus of this year’s event.

CTF speaks for 220,000 teachers in Canada as their national voice on education and related social issues. CTF membership includes Member organizations in every province and territory in Canada as well as an Affiliate Member in Ontario. CTF (http://www.ctf-fce.ca) is also a member of the international body of teachers, Education International (http://www.ei-ie.org).

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Comments: Paul Taillefer, Chair, CTF’s Advisory Committee on French as a First Language, 613-292-5860 (cell)

Information: Ronald Boudreau, Director of Services to Francophones, 613-899-4216 (cell)

Media contact: Francine Filion, Director of Communications, 613-688-4314