Children hold a “French Immersion S’il Vous Plait” sign. French immersion enrolment has fallen in the Quesnel School District for a second consecutive year. Submitted photo

French immersion enrolment falls in Quesnel for second consecutive year

Only 6.55 per cent of Quesnel student population enrolled in French immersion in 2018-2019

French immersion enrolment has fallen in Quesnel for a second consecutive year, according to a new report released by Canadian Parents for French BC and Yukon.

The report, released Sept. 3, found that while more students in B.C. are participating in French immersion than ever before, School District (SD) 28 seems to be bucking the provincial growth trend.

Across B.C., the data shows that 53,995 students were enrolled in French immersion in the 2018-2019 school year, or 9.49 per cent of the entire student body.

But in Quesnel, 194 students were registered in the program in the 2018-2019 school year, only 6.55 per cent of the student body.

READ MORE: Pressure to recruit French immersion teachers with increasing enrolment in B.C.

Rowan Burdge, chapter support and outreach manager for Canadian Parents for French BC and Yukon, told the Quesnel Cariboo Observer the declining French immersion enrolment could be related to the fact that total enrolment has been declining in the district.

“According to the 2018 data, total student population was decreasing last year, also. Population and demographic changes could be a factor in dipping enrolment,” Burdge said in an email.

Burdge also said some communities have trouble attracting and retaining qualified French language instructors, but SD28 Superintendent of Schools Sue-Ellen Miller said she is confident in the health of the French immersion program in Quesnel, which continues to operate from elementary through to secondary school.

“The program looks really healthy,” Miller said. “The numbers in elementary are still strong, but there are a few spots available, so it’s not a full program at this point.”

Miller acknowledged that overall enrolment has been decreasing in the district “for 15 years” as part of “overall decline throughout the north,” and noted that parental choice is a factor when it comes to French immersion.

She also said the district is “starting to level out” as far as overall enrolment goes.

“We’re going to break even or be up a little bit for the district,” she said of the incoming school year.

READ MORE: Quesnel is getting a new junior school


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