Canada

Teachers worry French CEGEPs are losing ground to anglophone colleges: report

In a letter signed by about 40 teachers, the inclusion of Dawson College's expansion in Bill 66 is mentioned as another sign of the growing influence of English in higher education in Quebec.

Dawson College in Montreal on Friday September 18, 2020. Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette ORG XMIT: 65029

A group of teachers in French-language CEGEPS is worried that the growing attraction of francophone students to English-language colleges is sending their sector — and the use of French in Quebec — into decline, Radio-Canada reported Wednesday.

In a letter obtained by the French-language news network and signed by 46 teachers, the inclusion of the expansion of Dawson College in Bill 66 — the Legault government’s legislation to restart the province’s pandemic-battered economy — is perceived by the signatories as another sign of the growing influence of English in higher education in Quebec.

While officials at Dawson say they are not seeking extra students, the teachers are concerned that francophone students already represent about 25 per cent of enrolment in English-language CEGEPs and that the number will grow, diminishing as it does so the value of a higher education in French.

According to figures compiled by the province’s ministry of higher education, anglophones represent about 35 per cent of students in English-language CEGEPs, while allophones constitute 39.5 per cent and francophones 25.1 per cent.

The report quotes Lucie Piché, head of the Fédération des enseignantes et enseignants de CEGEP, as saying that demand for English-language CEGEPS is so great that one student out of two on Montreal Island is receiving their pre-university education in one of the institutions.

The Radio-Canada report comes one day after Simon Jolin-Barrette, the minister responsible for Bill 101, told reporters he was examining the possibility of extending the language charter to CEGEPs. However, an hour after Jolin-Barrette spoke, Quebec Premier François Legault said such a move is “out of the question.”

“We do not intend to extend Bill 101 to CEGEPs and prevent francophones from going to CEGEP in English,” Legault said.

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