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New Brunswick

New French language program ‘never a sure thing’: N.B. Premier – New Brunswick

A languages ​​advocacy group says they are heartened by a statement from Premier Blaine Higgs about a new French language learning program to replace French immersion in 2023.

“Well, it was never a sure thing,” Higgs said, speaking to reporters during a media availability on Wednesday.

Under the new model, students will be taught 50 percent in French and 50 percent in English. The new program would completely replace French immersion for newcomers but would be retained for those already in the FI system.

Chris Collins, president of Canadian Parents for French New Brunswick, said it was a sign Higgs was listening to the public.

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“We are encouraged by this and hope that this will lead to . . . better things for education in New Brunswick,” he said in an interview.

The proposed changes met with strong opposition, particularly during consultations in some of the province’s cities. Hundreds of people came to the public consultations and expressed their anger and frustration at the decisions.

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Hundreds take part in public consultation on new French immersion program in New Brunswick

It’s not the first time, however, that officials responsible for the changes have seemingly left the door open to altering the plan.

On Jan. 24, Education Secretary Bill Hogan said “nothing is set in stone,” adding, “If it were set in stone, it would be foolish to hold consultations.”

Deputy Secretary John McLaughlin, who was partly responsible for the report that sparked a movement for changes in the FI system, also said decisions would be made on “whether to go ahead with this model or something else.”

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However, it was the first opportunity Higgs had to speak since the heated deliberations and said he was awaiting the final proposal.

“The minister and I and the ministry people will meet about it and obviously there will probably be further talks with the cabinet and the parliamentary group,” he told reporters. “Then we decide based on the recommendations … what we’ve learned and the recommendations that come out of that from the department.”

Collins said the goal remains a full return to French immersion, not a variation or modification of the proposed plan.

“There is a lot at stake with these proposed changes… we want the government to back down on this,” he said.

The Department of Education and Early Child Development issued an email statement on Wednesday. It was repeated that “no final decision had been made”.

“Everything we learn and hear during the consultations will be carefully considered over the coming weeks,” said department spokeswoman Clarrisa Andersen. “We will take the time to review notes and data to inform future government decision-making.”

No timeline was given for the release of a revised plan.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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