The call for businesses and educators to strengthen the use of French language in Rwanda is deliberately designed to cater for all communities and languages within in the country, government officials have said.
A cabinet meeting on Wednesday resolved to strengthen the use of the French language in education, training and business.
The move will further expand opportunities for Rwandans in business and other sectors.
The language is already being taught in public schools.
With African countries looking to trade more amongst themselves, the move could be a gateway into French speaking countries.
During a post cabinet meeting, yesterday, Justice Minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye said that the call for emphasis on French was to ensure that French speaking community in Rwanda gets equal share of treatment as it is with English and possibly Kinyarwanda.
A journalist gives a comment during a press conference at the prime minister’s office. Nadege Imbabazi.
“Strengthening French is nothing out of the normal in Rwanda,” Busingye said, downplaying assertions that the move was being made simply because a Rwandan was elected Secretary General of IOF Francophonie.
“In fact, Rwanda is a founding member of the Francophonie Organisation and French is not new in here. So, there is nothing new other than revitalizing the use of French language in all the businesses and meetings because a significant section of Rwandans speak French and it has a part of our constitution,” Busingye added.
Rwanda’s official languages are Kinyarwanda, English, French and Kiswahili. Apart from Kiswahili which was adopted recently, the national constitution and all other laws are printed in the other three languages.
The Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Isaac Munyakazi, also noted that the cabinet statement talks about “strengthening” which should be interpreted as a call on educationists to put more efforts in teaching French and allocating equal time for all languages taught in schools.
According to Busingye, French has in the recent past lost a competitive edge globally and that it was a coincidence that a Rwandan national is at the helm of the Francophonie community.
“It is important to note that French language has never lost it place in Rwanda and it’s not the first the country fronts a Rwandan to lead a supranational organization,” Busingye said.
“Being called French speaking or English Speaking country doesn’t benefit anyone as much. What is important is to find all possible ways though which our people can communicate freely, relate and trade with others across the world”.
Busingye added that Rwanda pushing for the French language doesn’t affect the country’s membership with the English speaking community under the Commonwealth.
“Rwanda is not the first member of the Commonwealth that has a French speaking community. We continue to be a firm and committed member of the Commonwealth and we continue to put same emphasis on English language as it has been,” he added.