VANCOUVER, B.C. - Today, the Vancouver School District signed an agreement with the Academies of Aix Marseille and Nice (Marseille and Nice school jurisdictions in France) to further strengthen and expand opportunities in French and English language education for students, teachers and administrators.
The District has offered French Immersion for 45 years, and the interest in the program continues to grow. Throughout the last 15 years, The District has seen a 35 per cent increase in French Immersion enrolment. Although the District offers the largest French Immersion program in the province of B.C., with approximately 200 French Immersion teachers, it is still challenging to find enough local French Immersion teachers to meet the growing demand.
"The agreement with Marseille and Nice will foster a relationship between students, teachers and the school communities to increase French teacher recruitment," says Suzanne Hoffman, Vancouver School District Superintendent. "The agreement will also provide the opportunity to share and exchange educational information, and in turn promote language and cultural learnings between the jurisdictions."
The agreement follows nine other partnerships made with B.C. school districts and French académies (the equivalent of unified B.C.'s school districts) to develop joint initiatives, that would:
- Encourage students, school based and district staff to share and exchange educational information.
- Encourage visits between principals, teachers, and students, as well as provide support for students who want to attend academic, fine arts, sports and summer camp programs in the other country.
- Support professional development conversation for teachers, and language training program for students.
"We've taken major steps to meet the growing demand for French-language education, and we're already seeing results," said Minister of Education, Rob Fleming. "It's incredibly positive to see our mission to Europe last April paved the way for these local partnerships, which will increase opportunities for students to learn in French in Vancouver and the entire province."
"This is the first agreement of its kind for the Vancouver School District," says Janet Fraser, Vancouver School District Board Chair. "We are very pleased to join the nine other school districts who have already taken part in this type of agreement and look forward to signing future agreements."
"Enabling cultures to meet and multiculturalism-at-large are at the heart of the French-language community," says Philippe Sutter, Consul General of France in Vancouver. "We are also looking forward to seeing more teachers and pedagogical frameworks as it will multiply exchange opportunities and in turn, find solutions to the lack of French teachers in BC."
There are approximately 500,000 students in the Marseille and Nice académies and their English Immersion program is steadily growing. This agreement will also benefit these two académies as they continue to expand English language education in the south of France.