Interest in learning French language, remains high in Prince Albert area

By Nigel Maxwell
October 9, 2018 - 8:00am

Both the Saskatchewan Rivers and Prince Albert Catholic School Divisions are reporting status quo years in terms of overall enrollment numbers, but both school divisions are also seeing big increases in French Immersion students.

There are just under 3,200 students enrolled this year in Prince Albert's Catholic School Division and Director of Education Lorel Trumier said about 31 per cent of those students are enrolled in French Immersion programming.

"We're always recruiting French Immersion teachers," she said. "We are very fortunate that in our area there is a French population of French speakers who choose the profession of education."

Robert Bratvold, Director of Education with the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Divison (SRPSD), said they have been faced with similar pressures.

"Our high school numbers have grown quite a bit in French immersion which was a little bit unexpected," he said.

There are currently five elementary schools and two high schools within the local divisions that offer French immersion programming. Relocatable classrooms were added to Arthur Pechey this year so the SRPSD could add a second immersion program in the city. 

In March, the federal government unveiled its Action Plan for Official Languages which included funding to address the recruitment and retention of teachers who teach French and English as a second language. Bratvold said recruitment is a continuous process but added they have not been forced to look too far for good teachers.

"Most of our French immersion teachers come from within Saskatchewan, but we also get some from Quebec and Ontario," he said.

Bratvold said the school division is still finalizing this year's enrolment numbers but projected the overall total to be around 9,000. In addition to the increase in French Immersion students, Bratvold they have also seen big jumps in the number of kindergarten and grade one students, as well as students in grade nine.


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