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The British Columbia government wants to double the number of French teachers available for the 2019-20 school year.

Education Minister Rob Fleming says the government will fund another 37 seats for French teachers next year, for a total of 74 seats funded by the province over two years.

Mr. Fleming says wait lists are too long for students who want French-language programs.

An additional $265,000 will cover 17 French education seats at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby and 20 more at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan.

Those seats are in addition to 37 that were announced in April in a funding partnership with the federal government.

Glyn Lewis of Canadian Parents for French in B.C. says the growing popularity of French education programs has been “a wonderful development,” but the province hasn’t been graduating or retaining enough French teachers to keep up with demand.

Mr. Lewis says his group estimates there’s a shortage of between 100 to 150 French teachers in the province.

More than 53,000 children are in French immersion programs in B.C., or about 9.5 per cent of the student population.

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