Foreigners

The webpage for Central Okanagan Public Schools' International Students program touts a variety of activities for youngsters to enjoy when they arrive in Kelowna. District officials are now recruiting host families for students who'll arrive in January.

Kelowna-area families are needed to host foreign students coming to attend public schools at the end of January.

Host families get paid $900 a month and can accept a maximum of two students. They’re supported by a dedicated homestay coordinator, monthly activity program, and a 24-hour emergency phone contact, the school district says.

Hundreds of students in Grades 8-10, from countries such as Germany, Italy, Mexico, China, Brazil, France, and Japan are coming in late January and will be here until the end of June.
 
The incoming students have interests that include swimming, skiing, basketball, table tennis, soccer, video games, and shopping, the school district said Thursday.

For more information and to apply to be a host family, see international.sd23.bc.ca

In recent years, about 600 foreign students have been enrolled annually in the Central Okanagan Public Schools system. But the numbers fell to about 160 in the 2020-2021 school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and have recovered only to about the 400 mark this year.
 
In the 2019-2020 academic year, before the onset of the pandemic, the district collected about $6 million in fees from the families of foreign students. The five-month fee for a foreign student to attend school in the Kelowna area is $13,200.
 
District officials say the foreign student program enriches the cultural life of schools and exposes local kids to people from other countries who they would not otherwise meet.
 
Last year, district officials suggested that trustees scrap an English proficiency test used to gauge the ability of foreign students to succeed in local schools, a proposal regarded by some as an effort to boost enrolment after the pandemic-induced decline in registration numbers.

"I think it's disingenuous for us to talk about how international education is all about promoting cultural diversity in our schools when the real reason we do it is because of the large amount of money it brings to our district," board chair Moyra Baxter said in November 2020.