Four out of five pupils attend French schools today in Montreal: study

Four out of five pupils attend French schools today in Montreal: study
Four out of five pupils attend French schools today in Montreal: study

Published on: March 31, 2017 | Last Updated: March 31, 2017 7:35 PM EDT

MONTREAL, QUE.: JANUARY 27, 2015 -- A sign at the entrance to the Office québécois de la langue française in Montreal Tuesday, January 27, 2015. French not threatened, says Brent Tyler who is waiting a verdict Wednesday, January 27, 2014 in his challenge to Montreal's signs law. (John Kenney / MONTREAL GAZETTE) John Kenney / Montreal Gazette

Four out of five students attend French schools today on the island of Montreal, up from from 63.8 per cent in 1971 – a finding that suggests the schooling provisions of Bill 101 have succeeded demonstrably in safeguarding the French language.

In two studies made public Friday, the Office québécois de la langue française reports on the evolution of the French language in the education sector, from pre-school up to CEGEP. 

Researchers did observe that the proportion of francophones who choose to attend CEGEP in French has dropped by 2.8 per cent from 1985 to 2015, mainly because more francophones are choosing English CEGEP. But this trend was countered by the fact that during the same period, French CEGEPS attracted a rising number of students whose mother tongue is neither French nor English.

Despite statistics showing that French is flourishing in the education sector, a prominent French-rights group released its own study on Friday, titled: “Admissions applications in decline in francophone CEGEPs.”

The Société St-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal focused specifically on Dawson College, contending that the popular Montreal institution is faring better than many French CEGEPs.

“Contrary to the francophone college network, Dawson CEGEP, the largest anglophone college and one of the biggest institutions in Quebec, is reporting the number of its admissions increasing by 2.3 per cent,” the SSJB declared in a statement on its website.

A spokesperson from the SSJB was not available to comment on the two studies by OQLF. Among the highlights of the OQLF studies:

* The proportion of francophone students with a high-school diploma who opted to attend an English CEGEP increased from 4.9 per cent in 1993 to 10.1 per cent in 2015. This trend has raised concerns among French-rights activists.

* In 2015, 90.4 per cent of students across the province attended a French primary or secondary school. In Montreal, the proportion was 80 per cent. By comparison, the provincial rate stood at 84.3 per cent in 1971, with 63.8 per cent of pupils going to French schools in Montreal.

* In the most striking finding, the proportion of allophones going to French schools across the province jumped from 14.6 per cent in 1971 to 89.4 per cent in 2015.

* In another significant finding, researchers noted a 20-per-cent increase in the proportion of anglophones going to French schools since 1976, the year the Parti Québécois formed the provincial government, ushering Bill 101 a year later. In 2015, 27.9 per cent of students whose mother tongue is English attended French schools in the province.

* From 1985 to 2015, the proportion of allophones attending CEGEPS rose from 7.6 per cent to 15.3 per cent.

* Language aside, the total number of primary and secondary students in Quebec dropped from 1.6 million in 1971 to 1 million in 2015.

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