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New dawn for French language as Rwanda recruits foreign teachers

A group of foreign teachers has arrived in Rwanda under a “teacher mobility” programme aimed at revitalising the French language in Rwandan schools.

For a decade now, sustaining French in local schools has been a challenge following the adoption of the English language as a medium of instruction in public schools.


Under the teacher mobility arrangement, a collaboration of the ministry of education and Organisation international de la francophonie (OIF), an umbrella body of French-speaking countries, which also conducted the recruitment, at least 25 volunteers have arrived in Rwanda to teach French in primary and secondary schools.


The teachers come from nine countries, among them France, Cameroon, Gabon, Senegal and Mali.


They will spend one year in Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs), as well as public and private schools, teaching students and training Rwandan teachers.

“The objective of this programme is to support schools to promote the teaching of French, to help teachers and to promote La Francophonie in general in this country,” said Juliette Bigot, cooperation and culture advisor at the French Embassy in Rwanda

She was speaking, Tuesday, October 13, on behalf of OIF at the opening ceremony of a three-day workshop in Kigali, which is part of the process to integrate the volunteers into the Rwandan society.

Bigot said Rwanda is one of the priority countries of the programme, revealing that more cohorts of volunteer teachers will be deployed.

Currently, the teachers are being trained on digital literacy, which has become a vital tool for remote learning for both educators and learners in times of Covid-19 pandemic.

“Promoting the French language is our goal,” said Gaspard Twagirayezu, Minister of State in charge of primary and secondary education.

“That is why we worked with La Francophonie so that these teachers can come here to help us, help people in our communities in order to continue to promote French.”

French is one of Rwanda’s four official languages, along with Kinyarwanda, English and Kiswahili.

Today, the language is only largely taught in upper primary and lower secondary two hours a week.

Rwanda has been a member of La Francophonie since 1970—an organisation currently headed by the country’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo.

“I think we really have to try to bring this language to life, that's what we want to do with the francophone cultural centre project,” said Bigot who is also the Director of French Institute in Rwanda.

The institute is “part of the revival of cooperation between France and Rwanda, especially in the cultural field,” according to France’s Chargé d’affaires in Rwanda, Jérémie Blin.

Twagirayezu expressed the “need to produce students who know about sciences, but who also have the ability to express themselves out there.”

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