Cancellation of the Fellowships for Studying in French: It pays to do your homework
TORONTO, October 9, 2013 – French Language Services Commissioner François Boileau urges the government to proactively consider the needs of Francophones and Francophiles when it is thinking of modifying or eliminating programs that support their vitality and development, rather than doing so reactively as in the case of the cancellation of the Fellowships for Studying in French program.
The Commissioner documents the findings of his investigation in his report entitled Cancellation of the Fellowships for Studying in French: It pays to do your homework, published today.
The report reviews the factors that make it essential for the government to introduce a new incentive for people to pursue a postsecondary education in French in Ontario as a replacement for the fellowships. In the Commissioner’s opinion, the government was right to extend Ontario Distance Grant eligibility to include Francophones and Francophiles. Nevertheless, he believes that this measure is not sufficient to make up for the inequality between the availability of French-language college and university programs and the availability of English-language programs, especially in Central-Southwestern Ontario.
“The government went against the principle of the active offer of service in French by eliminating the Fellowships for Studying in French program without first providing other specific measures to bring Francophones and Francophiles closer to genuine equal opportunity,” said the Commissioner. “I am nonetheless delighted that the government rectified the situation by broadening the eligibility criteria for the Travel Grant and the Commuting Grant to include Francophones and Francophiles.”
“It is vital for the government to develop and implement concrete, decisive action to remedy the very low French-language postsecondary education access rates (0% to 3%) in Central-Southwestern Ontario. Specific positive measures in this regard must be taken to provide Francophones with substantively equal opportunities to preserve their language, culture and identity,” added the Commissioner.
– The Fellowships for Studying in French program was introduced by the Ontario government in 1975-1976. Each year, $1,500 non-renewable fellowships were available to some 800 postsecondary students with a sufficiently high level of academic performance.
– The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities cancelled the Fellowships for Studying in French program in April 2012 following the discontinuation of several Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) funding plans in order to pay for the 30% Off Ontario Tuition program.
– In May 2013, the government extended eligibility for the Ontario Distance Grant program to include Francophones and Francophiles who have to travel at least 80 kilometres to attend a French-language full-time program, even if there is a college or university closer to their permanent home address.
– Despite the good intentions demonstrated in the most recent Speech from the Throne, more than a year after the publication of his report entitled The State of French-Language Postsecondary Education in Central-Southwestern Ontario: No access, no future, the government has still not announced any action plan to remedy the situation.
You can view the report Cancellation of the Fellowships for Studying in French: It pays to do your homework at www.flsc.gov.on.ca, in the “Publications” section.
The Office of the French Language Services Commissioner works to ensure active, integrated delivery of French-language services in support of the development of the Francophone community and Ontarian society.
Simon Côté, Public Relations and Communications Officer
Office of the French Language Services Commissioner
Phone: (416) 314-8247 or 1-866-246-5262 (toll free)
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