On the rise

French school en­roll­ment num­bers sur­pass 1,000 for the first time on P.E.I.

Journal Pioneer - - FRONT PAGE - BY COLIN MACLEAN

There are more P.E.I. stu­dents en­rolled in the French Lan­guage School sys­tem than ever be­fore. La com­mis­sion sco­laire de langue fran­caise (CSLF) an­nounced this week that the num­ber of stu­dents at its six P.E.I. schools this year topped 1,000 for the first time ever. Num­bers tend to fluc­tu­ate through­out the year, but there were at least 937 stu­dents in the sys­tem last year. When classes started this year there were 1,008 stu­dents. Mor­gan Gaudet is one of them. The St. Ni­cholas res­i­dent at­tended French im­mer­sion at Summerside In­ter­me­di­ate School for Grade 7 last year, but switched to École-sur-Mer and the French lan­guage sys­tem for Grade 8 this year. She de­cided to do that be­cause she be­lieves it’s in her long-term best in­ter­est. “This school has bet­ter French,” she said. “If I stay in French through­out, to Grade 12, I will have a bet­ter fu­ture and job prospects.” Mor­gan’s fa­ther, Cory Adams, said he has three chil­dren in the French sys­tem and two in the English sys­tem. The older two started their ed­u­ca­tions in English be­cause the fam­ily was liv­ing in Al­berta at the time and had no other op­tions. But when they moved back to P.E.I., they en­rolled Mor­gan in French im­mer­sion in the English sys­tem, while youngest two chil­dren went right into the French sys­tem. Adams said he was happy when he fi­nally man­aged to con­vince Mor­gan to switch to the French sys­tem as well.

He has wit­nessed first-hand the dif­fer­ence a com­plete school­ing in the lan­guage can have on a child’s abil­ity to re­tain it into adult­hood. He wanted as many of his chil­dren to re­tain that part of their her­itage as pos­si­ble. “I was scared she was go­ing to lose (the lan­guage) by the time she got to Three Oaks,” said Adams. CSLF Chair­man Emile Gal­lant said this year’s bump in en­roll­ment con­tin­ues sev­eral years of suc­ces­sive in­creases. He said there has been a 22.5 per cent in­crease in en­roll­ment over the past five years. He at­trib­uted those in­creases to more pro­mo­tional and recruitment ef­forts by the CSLF, greater aware­ness by par­ents of what French lan­guage ed­u­ca­tion re­sources are avail­able on P.E.I. and the close ties be­tween those re­sources and the French cul­tural cen­tres in each com­mu­nity. “Our pro­mo­tion ef­forts are bear­ing fruits de­spite our lim­ited means,” said Gal­lant. He added that the CSLF has set a goal of 1,500 stu­dent en­roll­ments and hopes to reach it within the next few years. For more in­for­ma­tion about the CSLF, visit its web­site at www. cslfipe.word­press.com.

COLIN MACLEAN/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Cory Adams and his three youngest chil­dren, from left, Mor­gan Gaudet and Storm and Pais­ley Adams. Mor­gan re­cently made the switch from the English lan­guage school sys­tem to the French sys­tem, which re­cently topped 1,000 stu­dents for the first time. She at­tends Grade 8 at École-sur-Mer in Summerside while her sis­ters at­tend Grade 4 and 2 at École Évangé­line in Abram-Vil­lage.

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