Parents hold out hope for Mandarin middle school program in south Calgary
CBE says it needs solid registration numbers to make it happen
CBC News Posted: Feb 09, 2017 8:55 AM MT Last Updated: Feb 09, 2017 9:00 AM MT
Many parents in south Calgary are waiting for find out if their children will be able to continue their bilingual Mandarin education in that part of the city.
At an information session hosted by the Calgary Board of Education Wednesday night, those with their children enrolled in a K-6 Mandarin program in the city's southeast were told it will come down to enrolment numbers.
Parents want a Mandarin junior high program to be set up at the Harold Panabaker School in Southwood, so that their children won't have to be bussed north to Colonel Irvine School once they leave the K-6 program at Midnapore School.
So far, Colonel Irvine is the only middle school with a Mandarin program in the city — and it's located about 30 kilometres north of Midnapore.
The CBE has designated the school in Southwood as a possible location for a second middle school, but the board says it needs 40 students signed up in Grade 5, the same for Grade 6, and 20 students for Grade 7 in order to make it happen.
Wei Nie, whose two children are a few years away from going to junior high, says he's concerned the program as a whole could be in jeopardy.
"We really want to have this program continue, from the bottom of our heart," he said. "If they just give up it's just a waste of time and a lot of investments."
CBE Area 5 director Sydney Smith said that's not going to happen.
"If we don't have sufficient numbers this year for the program to be viable, parents still have an opportunity to continue in the program because we do have a junior high site," she said.
Smith encouraged parents to try to boost the registration using word of mouth.
Darlene Casten, whose children are a few years away from junior high, said she is also concerned.
"Even though this doesn't affect my kids right now, I don't want any of these kids who have spent, like, seven years of their lives learning Mandarin to have nowhere to go. That wouldn't be right," she said.
If there are not enough students registered by the end of March, the board will try again next year, Smith said.
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