Continuing our “5 questions with…” interview series, Érudit spoke to the team behind the journal Éducation et francophonie. Natalie Delarive, editor, and Anderson Araújo-Oliveira, chairman of the editorial board and full professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), answered our questions.
On the occasion of the journal’s 50th anniversary, we discussed its governance within the Association canadienne d’éducation de langue française (ACELF) and how a scholarly journal can help promote the strengthening of an identity. In the interview, you’ll also discover a novel way in which the journal disseminates its issues.
1. Éducation et francophonie is celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year, could you tell us in what context the journal was founded and how it has evolved?
Éducation et francophonie is a journal created by the ACELF which celebrated its own 75-year anniversary in 2022. The first issue was published in 1971 and was designed to meet the organization’s needs around communication, information-sharing and notoriety. The journal is halfway between a community journal and a professional one. The theme-based formula was prioritized, but the journal also acts as the preferred dissemination channel for the organization’s research reports as well as the proceedings of its annual conference.
It kept this mandate until 1988, when a scholarly orientation started taking over. However, it was only with the volume 23, number 1 issue of spring 1995 that this change really took hold. From that point on, the journal fully embraced its new vocation, namely to better meet the needs of academics doing research on French-language education. This made it possible for the journal to receive funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
As mentioned by Michel Verrette in his article, all those elements contributed to “transform Éducation et francophonie from a journal involved in political struggle to one that could also act as a pedagogical tool, as well as from a Canadian national journal to an international one.”
Today, the journal focuses current issues in the field of education or societal issues that impact French-language educational settings. Its mandate is to stimulate reflection by disseminating research on French-language education.
2. Éducation et francophonie has been disseminated on the web and in open access since 1996. Could you tell us more about this choice?
In 1996, Éducation et francophonie made history by being the first Canadian French-language journal to be disseminated in open access on the web.
This decision was very ambitious for the time, as most journals were still published in print format and access to articles was limited to a small audience of academics.
As a note, the ACELF organizational archives show that the decision was tied to subscriptions and physical print. Indeed, until 1995, every ACELF member would receive a print copy of the journal. However, to create a full-fledged scholarly journal, the ACELF wanted the journal to be known outside the organization and to expand its readership to include more people, notably academics. That is where the idea of putting the issues on our website came from. Until 2015, it was still possible to pay for a print copy.
This transition was not without challenges, as the decision to offer the journal in digital format, and, moreover, in open access, did not at the time meet the funding requirements of the SSHRC, which demanded an exclusively print version and a certain number of copies sold. The journal had to do without this funding for a few years.
Open access web-based dissemination has several advantages, as it makes research on French-language education more accessible, both in terms of speed and efficiency since it avoids the delays created by printing physical issues. It reaches an international French-speaking audience and promotes research on French-language education all around the world.
By choosing to disseminate the journal on the web as early as 1996, Éducation et francophonie was taking an avant-garde and innovative stance. This approach made the journal stand out and showed that it was ready to adapt to technological changes and to explore new ways of disseminating research on French-language education.
Over the years, this type of dissemination has become more common place for research journals, and we could even say that it has become the norm when it comes to knowledge sharing. The SSHRC reviewed its criteria and the journal once again had access to the funding provided for scholarly journals. Who knows, maybe we contributed a bit to that change.
3. Founded by the ACELF, the journal publishes groundbreaking research results on French-language education in Canada and abroad. What are the challenges of running a pan-Canadian French-language journal that exists in the context of a non-profit organization?
Publishing a pan-Canadian French-language journal like Éducation et francophonie presents many unique challenges, notably because it is managed in the context of a non-profit organization, and not a university.
First of all, the journal has a particular organizational structure within the ACELF. Indeed, the regular editorial committee, who makes the decisions when it comes to the published content, consists of five researchers who represent Canada’s four regions (Atlantic, Québec, Ontario as well as Western Canada and the territories). When it comes to the journal’s operations (editing, administrative, financial, communicational, etc.), they fall under the responsibility of the ACELF’s general management, with tasks being taken on by various members of the organization, notably an editor assigned specifically to the journal.
Human resource management is an important challenge for the journal, as each issue requires the voluntary work of numerous contributors from different regions and countries.
Funding is another major challenge, notably in terms of production, marketing and distribution. The ACELF has to find reliable and sustainable sources of funding to cover its expenses, while still ensuring that the journal remains accessible. This is particularly challenging for an open access journal.
Keeping the journal relevant is another challenge. As a pan-Canadian publication, Éducation et francophonie has to reflect the realities and concerns of French-speaking communities across Canada.
Internationalizing the journal to reach the global French-speaking world is another major challenge. To reflect the concerns and challenges of French-speaking communities across the world, the journal must attract manuscripts from researchers and experts from various French-speaking countries.
Maintaining a rigorous peer-review process is also essential to maintaining the quality of the journal. Since the journal is aimed at an international French-speaking audience, it is crucial that submitted articles be reviewed by subject matter experts in their field and that they meet the highest academic norms.
Committed to successfully overcoming all these challenges, the journal continues to publish high-quality research and to provide a platform for discussion and debate on issues relating to current-day education issues in French-speaking settings.
4. The construction of a Francophone identity seems like a pillar of the ACELF, in what ways can a scholarly journal promote the strengthening of an identity?
The concept of building a Francophone identity has become more prominent in education, which raises extremely complex questions, the understanding of which varies greatly from one person to another. Since 2006, the ACELF has worked to put forth a coherent vision for identity building (link in French), which would provide a universal and evolving definition and model. This is a highly dynamic process in which self-definition and self-recognition proceed from a person’s way of thinking, acting, and wanting in social contexts and in the natural environment in which they find themselves.
Educative interventions in identity building must include an articulated pedagogical intention. It has to rest on proven principles that take today’s reality into account. That is the reason why eight guiding principles (in French) have been developed to inspire educational action.
The journal’s mandate is to stimulate reflection by disseminating research results on education in French, and it focuses mainly on the first and sixth principles:
- First guiding principle “To be part of a contemporary Francophonie”: the journal’s work is part of a contemporary vision of a Francophonie that is open to the world and aware of today’s realities. The journal presents current issues in the field of education and societal issues that impact French-language educational settings. It disseminates groundbreaking research content on education in French as widely as possible and promotes the national and international reach of Canadian French-speaking researchers.
- Sixth guiding principle “Create ties in the Francophonie”: the journal emphasizes the French language as a unifying force. It aims to create and improve shared knowledge about every fact of a diversified Francophonie as it is lived at local, provincial, territorial, regional, national, and international levels. It promotes the creation of networks of researchers who stimulate efforts to empower communities by helping stakeholders in French-language education further their thinking on these questions.
The importance of a journal like Éducation et francophonie for Francophone identity building comes not only from its role as a dissemination vector for knowledge about Québec and French-speaking Canada, but also for its capacity to preserve, update and disseminate a scholarly heritage that is specific to our minority community in the Americas.
5. Can you highlight some articles published in Éducation et francophonie that helped to further knowledge in French-language education in the last fifty years?
In the last few years, Éducation et francophonie has been creating popular science capsules for the launch of each issue. These have wide-ranging reach, both in academia and in elementary and secondary education settings. Here are the latest five:
- Well-being, a lever to counter the teacher shortage?
Everybody who works in French-language educational settings knows that the lack of qualified teachers is a major issue, especially in minority settings. Among the factors that contribute to this challenge, teachers leaving the profession during their training is an important one. The capsule inspired by the article written by Desmarais, Kenny and Berg (2023) highlights possible solutions to teachers leaving the educational profession.Quiconque travaille dans les milieux scolaires de langue française le sait.
Watch the video (in French).
- Oral communication at school.
“Speaking is the gateway to all learning,” says Christian Dumais, professor at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. In the foreword to the issue he edited —Dumais (2022)— , Christian Dumais invites researchers to take an interest in this field of research, in order to think about or rethink the pedagogical continuity between preschool and primary education in terms of oral education.
Watch the video (in French).
- Digital citizenship in an interconnected world.
The digital universe is growing and touches every aspect of our lives. It offers many possibilities, notably expression of one’s citizenship. This capsule inspired by the article written by LeBlanc, Léger and Freiman (2021) provides a model to understanding the key components of digital citizenship, based on a review of written material. Digital citizenship is presented as a mix of citizen competencies (for example, engagement or the capacity to make responsible choices) and digital competencies (for example, competent use of technologies and the capacity to evaluate the credibility of information).
Watch the video (in French).
- Reflections from Franco-Manitoban Métis University students on their cultural identity, reconciliation and education.
Education is at the core of our societies’ capacity to progress. In this era of reconciliation between non-natives and the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, more and more educative settings are developing promising initiatives. These let Native and Métis perspectives shine and stimulate reflection. A course titled “Perspectives autochtones en contexte scolaire” (Native Perspectives in School Settings), offered at the Université de Saint-Boniface, in Manitoba, is one such initiative. This eventually led to this article written by Sims, Gagné, Carrière, Vandal, Fowler, Brémault and Grégoire (2021) , six Métis Franco-Manitoban students, that argues that French-language educational settings can become anchoring points for reconciliation.
Watch the video (in French).
- Special educator-teacher co-education
Research on co-education in French-language settings is recent. We now know that children do not all learn the same way nor at the same rate, and that certain students have learning difficulties while others often feel like they are not being challenged. This capsule inspired by the article written by Dubé, Cloutier, Dufour and Paviel (2020) highlights tips identified by remedial teachers who were interviewed for a study. These tips are meant to help teachers meet the needs of the wide array of profiles that make up their classroom.
Watch the video (in French).