French-Language School Boards in Ontario Criticize English-Only Literacy Study

Associations representing French public and Catholic school boards in Ontario say they are disappointed that they were never consulted during a provincial public inquiry into whether the public education system is failing students with learning disabilities. learning.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission released a damning report Monday that at least a third of students graduate without reaching the level of literacy the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development deems necessary to fully function in the economy today.

But the report focused only on English-speaking students.

The Association of School Boards of Public Schools of Ontario (ACÉPO) and the Franco-Ontarian Association of Catholic School Boards (AFOCSC) now both say they feel excluded from the study.

“It’s a long-term investigation that began in 2019, during which they certainly had the opportunity to find out if their conclusions could also be applied to French-language education,” said the director general. from ACÉPO, Isabelle Girard, in an interview in French with Radio-Canada.

“I find it surprising that things happened this way.”

She did not speculate on why the commission excluded French-language counsel, but called it ironic given that the commission’s raison d’être is to promote and protect human rights. , especially for minority groups such as Franco-Ontarians.

10% of English-speaking students suffer from dyslexia

The commission’s study revealed that nearly 10% of English-speaking students suffer from dyslexia.

It also revealed that 26% of all Grade 3 students and 19% of all Grade 6 students did not meet provincial reading standards in 2018-19.

Eight English school boards and thirteen English faculties of education participated. The report offered 157 recommendations to the Ontario Ministry of Education.

However, French-language school boards are only mentioned twice.

In a press release, the two associations claimed that the commission violated its own mandate to protect the rights of all Ontario students, regardless of their language of instruction.

“It is a major shortcoming when we talk about equity of access to reading for all students in Ontario and that we only survey Anglophones and do not take into account the reality of Francophones. “, told the director general of the AFOSC, Yves Lévesque, to Radio-Canada in French.

The study found that nearly 10% of English-speaking students had dyslexia and 26% of all Grade 3 students did not meet provincial reading standards in 2018-19. (Michel Nogue/Radio-Canada)

“No conclusive data”

Without collecting evidence focused on the Francophone experience, it will be more difficult to address learning disabilities, the two councils said.

“Learning to read…is very different in a minority setting, surrounded by English speakers. And so the challenges are not the same,” Girard said.

“Are we doing better? Are we doing less well? Are we going to apply beneficial or harmful solutions to what is already in place? adds Lévesque. “We won’t know since we don’t have conclusive data on our situation.”

The commission did not respond to requests from Radio-Canada for an explanation of why French-speaking students were excluded.

Despite the report’s focus on Anglophones, Lévesque said French-language school boards will still be able to apply some of the study’s recommendations that are common to both language groups.

Sylvester L. Goldfarb