Catholic school division grateful for new grant funding that will boost French Immersion education

Herald file photo.

French Immersion programming and needs continue to grow in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division.

For the 2022-2023 school year, 32 per cent of PA Catholic students are participating in French Immersion programming. That’s up from 23 per cent in 2011-12. Because of this growth, the division applied for Federal-Provincial Funding for Enhancement of Official Languages Program.

On Monday, education director Lorel Trumier said the division’s grant application was successful, meaning they will receive $103,795 to put towards language classes and educational resources. Trumier said that’s vital, since the cost of teaching French in school has only gone up.

“We are pleased about it,” she said. “We need to support our staff in training and support materials, recruitment materials, and again, they just cost more.

“Clearly we have parents in our community that really want Catholic and French Immersion programming. That’s something that we can provide, so (we are) very thrilled about the additional enhancements of official languages programming, for sure.”

Trumier thanked superintendent Charity Dmytruk for getting the funding application completed following the grant announcement in June.

The Catholic Division’s per capita enrolment is among the highest in Saskatchewan. The number of students enrolled also passes the provincial minimum of 15 per grade.

“What we want to do is make sure that we can continue to offer a quality program,” Trumier said. “We applied for the Type B designation based on the percentages of French Immersion programming we can provide. It’s exciting when we can do that and get things going in that direction and still maintain a very high level of French Immersion percentages in the French language of instruction.”

The division requested funds to improve student participation, and academic achievement, support education staff training, and provide more programs in enriched learning environments.

Enriched language learning environments includes things like invitations for French Language speaking guests and cultural activities. The division has already begun planning around all of those areas.

“It was a lengthy process and well worth it, obviously, that we were able to acquire those kinds of funds,” Trumier said.

“Looking at funding the provision of programs (and) a simple thing like resources available in French language. They are often more expensive than resources in English because of the shipping. We have to have shipping costs. Often, it just makes the costs higher.”

The board was also announced that the Ministry of Education has approved the designation of French Immersion programs for the Catholic Division for the 2022-2023 school year. The Minister’s Order approved St. Anne, Holy Cross and Ecole St. Mary High School for French Immersion.