Proposed amendments to the province’s Early Learning and Childcare
Act are coming under fire from both the anglophone and francophone
The changes, introduced Wednesday, could force new daycares in the
province to choose between an English curriculum or a French one.
Carol McCluskey, who has worked in the bilingual daycare business for 14 years, doesn't think she should have to choose.
“It's dividing people,” she said. “It's going to divide myself and my husband because he's English and I'm French.”
But Michel Doucet, a lawyer and University of Moncton law professor
who specializes in linguistic rights, contends the changes don’t go far
The Charter states that education facilities must be francophone or anglophone, not bilingual, said Doucet.
And that’s a right that’s particularly important for french-speaking children living in english-speaking areas, he said.
“In the daycare, what will be the language used usually will be the
language of the majority and that might have an effect on the capacity
of those children to learn French and to be able to integrate into the
French school system,” Doucet said.
And while some people might fear the changes could eradicate bilingualism from preschool learning, Doucet disputes the notion.
McCluskey currently addresses her English class and her French class
at Moncton’s Gardarie Daily Daycare in both languages throughout the
Existing daycares will be grandfathered, he stressed. “So it doesn't really change much.”
In addition, childcare providers can still use both languages outside of curriculum work, said Doucet.
Education Minister Jody Carr told CBC News he recognizes the
importance of duality and changes to the amendments can still be made.
Language commissioner urged duality
The Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick was unavailable for comment on Thursday.
But Michel Carrier has previously urged the government to “fully implement the principle of duality in childcare services.”
In his 2010-2011 annual report, called Move Forward or Lose Ground,
Carrier said allowing childcare facility operators to use both
curricula at a single facility is “diametrically opposed to the very
objective of the act.”
The act clearly sets out the importance of high-quality early
learning and childcare services in promoting the development of young
children, he said.
“It should be remembered that bilingual settings often spell assimilation for members of minority communities,” Carrier said.
“This is also why New Brunswick has two public school systems, one for francophones and one for anglophones.
“Like many other stakeholders, the commissioner has recommended to
the provincial government that it be consistent in its actions.
“If it truly wishes to give children, including francophone children,
every chance of success, it must fully implement the principle of
duality in childcare services."
- reprinted from CBC news