An advisory body to the Quebec government on education is recommending that intensive English programs in French elementary schools not be made mandatory in the 6th grade and that the programs can go ahead only if several conditions are met.
The Conseil supérieur de l’éducation said in its recommendations that English immersion programs should not be obligatory starting in 5th or 6th grades unless schools meet conditions related to teacher training and the way it's taught. The council said that right now in existing programs, not enough time is being devoted to the program and they're too focused on grammar. It added that such programs have to also depend on the region and other circumstances.
The Quebec Federation of Parents Committees said the recommendations are fair and in line with what they proposed. Executive director Marc Charland said the ball is now in the camp of governing boards and the government, especially when it comes to budgets.
"If there are needs in schools and school boards, then the government should help," Charland told CJAD 800 News.
"It's a warning telling the governing boards, the school boards, be sure that you will be able to have those conditions in place, and, this is the most important point, if you have the conditions, go ahead."
And the council said if the schools do go ahead, the goverment must help provide the necessary support and resources.
The Conseil supérieur de l’éducation said it's important for French-speaking students to master English during their early school years and that a second language can even help them with their mother tongue. But the council does emphasize the need for a balance.
Teachers unions such as the Fédération autonome de l'éducation say they agree with the council's reservations about the program and that the government should offer resources to schools who do go ahead with it.