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Jennifer Burton working with an EAL student

Jennifer Burton working with an EAL student

How the budget will affect this and other programs

Article: Eman Bare – News Writer

This years provincial budget includes an almost $600,000 addition in funding to the EAL program in Saskatchewan. English as an Additional Language is offered at many Saskatchewan schools, including the University of Regina. According to statistics from 2013, Saskatchewan has over 3,000 students that are enrolled in EAL support programs in schools.

It is also believed that in Regina and Saskatoon alone, there is an expected 8,000 students who need additional help with the English language.

“We will look around the province. The ministry officials will work and determine where the number of new students are, and allocate it on that basis,” said Minister of Education Don Morgan, when asked where the funding would be used. “We are not going to allocate it just on the basis of what the per capita is.”

In the 2011 census, statistics show that there are 68,780 Saskatchewan residents who were born in other countries. The consensus of 2006 in comparison shows that there were a total of 48,160 Saskatchewan residents who were born in a foreign country.

“We want to make sure that we have everything that we can do to try and encourage immigration. We work with the federal government and we work with the employers,” said Morgan. “The people who come to this province, we need their skills, we need them in our work force and the last thing that we want to do is have a lack of English language support being an impediment to them coming.”

In addition to increasing funding to EAL programs, the government has also increased funding to the Adult Basic Education program. The budget invested an additional $2.1 million in funding, and this translated into an additional 700 seats in the program.

Jennifer Burton, an EAL teacher at the University of Regina, said that the government needs to start paying more attention to skilled workers in the province, and this budget was a good first step.

“There seems to be a lack of EAL programs directed to the skilled workers that are in Saskatchewan,” said Burton. “While they (skilled workers) have to pass a certain level of English proficiency to apply for the visa, they could still benefit from a class with an emphasize on technical English.”

Others are critical of the funding the Saskatchewan Government provided.

“Unfortunately the dollars that we see on that front are insufficient. It’s really exciting that we have a growing population, and a big part of that population is a new Canadian population and many of those individuals are learning English, “ said Trent Wotherspoon, an MLA for the NDP. “It adds a complexity to classrooms and it certainly is a challenge for the students. Government needs to do a better job of supporting the growth in that population, the needs of those students, and making sure they have the resources required to have the best quality education to fulfill their full potential here in Saskatchewan.”

Statistics show that 20,620 people have immigrated to Saskatchewan between 2006-2011. Those numbers translate into 39 per cent of the immigrant population in the province arriving within those four years.

“We’ve seen a lot of problems with this government’s track record when it comes to the immigrant nominee program, so we’re continuing to listen to the immigrant community to ensure that needs are being met,” said Cam Broten, leader of the NDP. “It comes down to education as well. We need to make sure the right resources are in the classroom so that we have enough ELA teachers and the right supports are there.”

Although it has yet to be determined just how the nearly $600,000 in funding will be used for EAL programs in this province, the need to support the growing immigrant population is evident both in statistics and in schools.

Image: Eman Bare

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