OACS seeks new agreement with Ministry of Canadian Heritage
The Ontario government recently informed independent schools that it is cutting way back on the provision of French instruction grants to independent schools.
John Vanasselt, director of communications for the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) describes the decision as a “slap in the face to the independent school community.”
Since the early 1970s the federal Ministry of Canadian Heritage has provided grants for the teaching of French in Ontario’s independent schools.
This program was made available to all students in Canada in order to foster multicultural understanding.
The grants range from $500 to $2,700 and for schools already operating on a shoestring budget, are vital to keeping their French programs updated and appropriately resourced.
Last fall the Ministry of Canadian Heritage passed on the administration of the grant program to the provincial government.
Earlier this year independent schools across the province received a letter from the Ontario Ministry of Education outlining the new policy on the French grant program.
Beginning 2008-09 elementary independent schools will no longer be eligible to receive the grants.
Only secondary independent schools or schools offering Grades 9 - 12 that teach French 25 per cent of the school-week will be able to apply for the funding. These schools are to be inspected by the Ministry of Education.
The OACS has been informed very clearly that the Ministry of Education has “no interest” in restoring these grants to elementary independent schools.
Besides treating independent school students “like second-class citizens,” this decision is in direct contravention to the national policy on official languages, says Vanasselt.
“It removes the opportunity for the kids in independent schools to participate in a federal program which seeks to enhance the two official languages of the country,” he says.
The OACS has decided to approach the Ministry of Canadian Heritage directly to seek out a new agreement which will promote and support French language instruction in Ontario’s independent schools.
The OACS needs parents and anyone else who supports independent schools to help correct this injustice. The Alliance is asking people to write their federal member of parliament about the issue.