April 14, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Enrolment in the new Grade 3 French Immersion program is off to a strong start for the upcoming school year.
Figures from the anglophone districts' registration process show that 1,619 students have enrolled for this coming September. Currently there are 1,450 Grade 3 immersion students from the previous early immersion program. In September, there will be 84 Grade 3 immersion classes, up by six from the current 78, with a total of 169 more students.
"I am pleased with the enrolment figures for this new Grade 3 immersion program," said Education Minister Roland Haché. "I believe that our new approach to teaching French will contribute to ensuring that all our students achieve the critical skills they need for success in the 21st-century global economy. Being able to communicate effectively in your first language, as well as other languages, and understanding and working with other cultures and in the global economy are critical 21st-century skills."
Since 2006, the provincial government has made record financial investments in education, as well as some fundamental changes to the system, including to the way anglophone students learn French. These changes were part of a strategy to address long standing challenges facing New Brunswick students, who consistently ranked at the bottom on national and international assessments. The changes to French Second Language instruction included:
A new bilingual learning-environments policy has been developed for middle and high schools to provide real-life French experiences; to promote interaction between students in the immersion and non-immersion programs; and to create co-curricular and extracurricular activities in French.
"We are starting to see positive results of our approach," said Haché. "Early literacy rates are rising, and we are now using that success to put the same emphasis on math and science. We now have two quality programs, Immersion and Intensive French, that give all New Brunswick anglophone students the opportunity to acquire an additional language while building strong communications skills and knowledge of other cultures and the world around them. The changes we are making now in our approach to education will result in highly skilled and innovative citizens who will be successful in the 21st century."
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Kilfoil, communications, Department of Education, 506-444-4919.