Province funds more French teacher education seats at SFU and UBC
Education minister announced 37 new spots for the 2019-20 school year
The British Columbia government is doubling up on its efforts to fill the need for French immersion teachers.
Education Minister Rob Fleming announced Tuesday his ministry will fund another 37 French teacher education seats for the 2019-20 school year, for a total of 74 seats funded by the province.
Next year's 37 new seats will be at Simon Fraser University and UBC Okanagan. Those will be in addition to the 17 new training spaces at SFU and 20 at UBC.
Enrolment in French immersion is at an all-time high in B.C., with more than 53,000 students or almost 10 per cent of the entire student body. Advocates say the numbers would be even higher if school districts were able to hire enough French teachers to meet demand.
Glyn Lewis, executive director of the B.C.-Yukon Branch of Canadian Parents for French, applauded the province's announcement, but noted there is still a shortage of French immersion teachers.
"We estimate we are short somewhere between 100 and 150 French teachers in communities all around the province right now," Lewis said in a statement.
"Unfortunately, we haven't been graduating or retaining enough French teachers to keep up with the demand. We applaud the B.C. Ministry of Education for rolling out concrete initiatives to help meet our short-term and long-term needs."
With files from Canadian Press