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Daycare proposal has some operators fuming

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Bagnall, Janet
Publication Date: 
18 Oct 2012



MONTREAL - Many people involved in Quebec's daycare system guessed, correctly it seems, that the government's proposal to make French the only official language for children under the age of 5 of might not last out the week. The fact that the proposal appeared more trial balloon than serious policy-making didn't make them any happier that their new government was even thinking of forcing children in daycare to speak French.

Lashmi Seshadri, owner of Garderie Lashmi in Pierrefonds, a private, home-based daycare, said French-speaking parents use her centre to give their children a chance to learn English. "Children in Quebec need to be bilingual," she said. "What happens if they want to move somewhere else to pursue their career?"

In Laval, daycare-owner Dzovag Vanian also said francophone parents come to her centre, Garderie le Carrefour Éducatif, because it is bilingual. "They want their children to learn English as well as French," she said. "It's a good idea. We offer a program in both languages."

Lawyer Nancy Stromei, who described herself as a francophone of Italian origin, said she chose a bilingual daycare for her adopted son. "We brought him home from China when he was 18 months old," she said. "He spoke Mandarin and English. Since his arrival, he has needed a number of operations to correct a mobility problem. The psychologist we consulted told us we should not impose learning a third language, French, on him when he was struggling with so much else.

"He's 3½ years old now and is behind in his language development," said Stromei, head of the parents' committee at her son's daycare, Razmataz Kidz in Laval. "For the moment, he is going to stay in an English centre. That doesn't mean that later he won't learn French. He will. I'm francophone. But if he were forced to learn French now that would push him farther back in his development."

Desy Sacripante is the owner of Razmataz Kidz, a private daycare with 75 children. She said that she created a niche in what was a rapidly growing daycare market by offering a bilingual daycare program.

"I have my permit. I have my niche. And now you're going to tell me that I can't offer an English program when most of my clientele are allophones and want English? My clientele want their children to be competitive in the economic market. They want their children to speak English.

Under the Parti Québécois government, English is being removed from primary and secondary school and the CÉGEP system and now possibly the early childhood education centres, said Sacripante. "Where will children learn English? Does (Premier Pauline Marois) never expect them to leave Quebec?"

-reprinted from the Montreal Gazette