President's Message - February 2003
As our February Réflexions was going to print the Board of Directors was preparing for a meeting with Minister of Intergovernmental affairs Stéphane Dion. Our meeting did indeed take place on February 10th at the Minister's offices in Ottawa and, as intended, provided the Board of Directors with the opportunity to speak with Minister Dion and with key people who work in the Office of Official Languages and Intergovernmental Affairs.We talked to the Minister about CASLT's mandate and ourpast and current projects. In response to the Minister's invitation to provide suggestions as to how the Federal government can improve the state of official languages in Canada we offered some very concrete
suggestions: Address the concerns of teachers in the classrooms; Focus on improving
Core French Programs since these programs provide 90% of Canadian children with their second language experience; Address the retention concerns in both core and immersion programs; Facilitate communication among organizations (such as CASLT) who work to improve second language teaching and learning in Canada.
Susan Forward, Diane Tijman, Stéphane Dion, Nicole Thibault
On March 12th, 2003 Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Ministers Stéphane Dion and Lucienne Robillard released the federal government's Action Plan for Official Languages. CASLT was present for the launch which took place in Ottawa. The document, entitled The Next Act: New Momentum for Canada's Linguistic Duality addresses three priority areas: Education, Community development and The public service. In the area of Education (official languages) the government has responded to the following concern:
In core programs in either language or in French immersion, however, enrolment has not risen over the last 10 years. After rising at the end of the 1970s and 1980s enrolment in second language programs is no longer increasing.
The Board of Directors was pleased to see that the report promises funding for second-language instruction to:
- Improve core English and French programs.
- Revitalize immersion.
- Increase the number of qualified teachers.
For those of you who are interested the entire document is available on the Government of Canada web site on the Intergovernmental Affairs page.
The Board of Directors feels that CASLT is in an excellent position to respond to these challenges through our current projects: CASLT Chez Vous brings professional development to second language teachers across the country. We will be holding a minimum of twelve CASLT Chez Vous in 2003-2004. The FSL proficiency certificate will encourage students to continue with their French Second Language programs throughout high school.
Funding for Strategic Planning from Canadian Heritage has allowed the Board to review the association's mandate and mission statement and to establish priorities. As a result of this planning, CASLT now has a part-time executive director (as of May 1) and I am very happy to inform all members that Nicole Thibault, who has been with us as Education officer since 1999, has accepted the position as executive director.
In its thirty plus years of history CASLT has accomplished many things through the hard work of a volunteer board of directors. The appointment of an executive director represents the result of this work and promises an exciting future for the association as CASLT plays an important role in the government's new Action Plan for Official Languages.