Ont. backs farm-focused secondary school co-op

An alternative residential education centre in eastern Ontario, geared toward francophone training for rural youth in the ag labour force, has picked up new provincial funding.

La Cooperative de la Maison familiale rurale franco-ontarienne (MFRFO) will get $170,827 through the province’s rural economic development program to help provide students with “room and board, social activities and educational, cultural and practical training within the rural, agricultural and commercial workforce.”

The MFRFO, based at Alfred, Ont., about 70 km east of Ottawa, follows the Maison Familiale Rurale alternative training program, which according to the province is successfully used in over 40 countries. Students alternate between study and practical work experience.

Luc Morin, the president of the MFRFO co-op, said the program will be the first of its kind in Ontario and will “contribute in creating a much-needed, qualified agricultural labour force.”

Furthermore, he said in the province’s release Wednesday, the project “will help increase rural Ontario’s high-school graduation rate and will help retain youth within the communities.”

The program bills itself as providing students with an alternative “home” setting to work through grades 10 to 12 to receive their provincial secondary school diplomas.

“An alternative educational residence that focuses on the specific needs of rural youth will provide them with the practical training that they need to integrate successfully in the local labour market,” MPP Jean-Marc Lalonde said in Wednesday’s announcement.

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