Rob Fleming, Minister of Education has said that “for too long, parents have been facing waitlists to enrol their children in French immersion because of a shortage of qualified French teachers, “the work we have done on this mission will help us recruit new teachers and give more kids the opportunity to learn in French.”
Over the past 10 years, the total combination of enrolment in French programs and the Conseil Scolaire Francophone (CSF) has increased by 27%. The longstanding shortage of French teachers was compounded by the Supreme Court’s 2016 ruling that government must reduce class sizes and hire thousands more teachers. B.C.’s public schools have successfully hired almost 3,700 teachers throughout the province. However, there are still some longstanding gaps in the workforce when it comes to specialized positions, particularly with French-language teachers.
“We have been working hard to reduce class sizes by hiring 3,700 teachers, but there is more work to do,” said Fleming. “The agreements we’ve signed and the connections we’ve made on this mission will open the door for districts to hire more French teachers, so we can give every child the best opportunities possible.”
On the four-day trip, B.C. renewed a declaration of intent with the French ministry of education that will help B.C.’s school districts hire French teachers. This agreement enhances B.C.’s relationship with French government officials and puts the Province in a better position to bring more French teachers to B.C. The delegation also supported the signing of a new letter of intent between Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Université de Tours, in support of exchanges for faculty, staff and students.
“The growing demand for French teachers has SFU looking at recruiting all over la Francophonie, to find francophone teachers, expertise and resources,” said Kris Magnusson, dean, faculty of education, Simon Fraser University. “France and Belgium are prime recruiting grounds for B.C.”
To help break down barriers for teachers and prospective teachers from France who are interested in working in B.C., five new $3,000 training scholarships and 10 new $1,250 placement scholarships have been created by the Ministry of Education. These scholarships will help teachers from France with costs for tuition and relocating here to teach in British Columbia. In Paris, the delegation communicated directly with French education academies on federal-provincial commitments to remove teacher mobility and accreditation barriers to teach in British Columbia, with options ranging from temporary work permits to pathways to citizenship.
Meetings with Belgian government officials from the French-speaking region of Wallonia-Brussels laid the foundation for future joint activities, including French-speaking teacher recruitment. B.C. is working to sign a declaration of intent with Belgium that is similar to the agreement signed with France. These government-to-government agreements support B.C.’s school districts’ efforts to directly offer employment to teachers in these French-speaking countries.
A new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the minister of education for the Netherlands was signed that will continue information sharing and student and teacher mobility exchanges. B.C. is unveiling a new $5,000 scholarship for a B.C. teacher to travel to the Netherlands for the purposes of a short-term exchange and partnership development related to curriculum.
The mission adds to current efforts underway by government, the BC Public School Employers’ Association and British Columbia’s school districts to recruit French teachers to address the shortage.