Education and training

Since the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, the Francophone community, with the Fédération des parents Francophones de Colombie-Britannique in the lead, has fought a hard battle to force the Government of British Columbia to comply to Article 23 of the Charter. Their years of perseverance paid off in 1997 when the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordered provincial legislators to amend the School Act to recognize the special rights contained in Article 23. Thus, British Columbia now has a French-language school board which has jurisdiction throughout the entire province. Today, there are over 4,200 Francophone students in the French-language schools.

The development of French-language school has accelerated since the arrival of the Conseil scolaire Francophone. There are more than 40 programs and 28 schools - including 22 homogeneous schools (only French is taught). Over 78 communities are served by French-language education programs. In the past few years, the Conseil scolaire Francophone has been among the few school boards in the province that have seen their number of students increase. There is also a virtual school serving more than 175 students.

Every French-language elementary school also offers full-time kindergarten since 1999. Other than the 30 existing kindergarten classes, there are currently 36 French-language preschool/daycares throughout the province. Many of these services are offered within the schools themselves.

At the postsecondary level, Simon Fraser University has set up an Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs in 2004. This office offers a degree in Public Administration and Community Services as well as programs in education, namely a Masters in Education and a Ph.D. in educational leadership. The University of British Columbia (UBC) and some colleges (Douglas College, University College of the Fraser Valley and the University of Victoria also offer education in French, especially in literature, history and languages.

Éducacentre, the only French-language college in British Columbia, is recognized for minority-language education, distance learning and adult education. Éducacentre has four campuses across the province (Vancouver, Victoria, Prince George and Nanaimo) as well as a virtual campus. The college welcomes 1,500 students every year.