Fourteen years after getting the first invitation, British Council has finally officially launched its activities in Rwanda, promising to focus mainly on leadership and school exchange programmes, with a heavy dose of English language teaching. This is a shift from the public utility’s traditional disciplines of Library and Scholarships.
Continuing to lean toward things English is a matter dictated onto Rwanda by modern trends. Adding the language to Kinyarwanda and French as a third official language was recognition of the knowledge richness it offers to users.
Especially when the national development strategy is about achieving a knowledge-based economy with a bias in science, there was no way the English fashion was not going to define Rwanda’s style.
Only last June Rwanda and Burundi became part of the English speaking East African Community, and later in November in Kampala, Uganda, Rwanda ceased a chance at the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting to once again make its case for joining the largely British influenced club.
Most schools in the country still teach predominantly in French, risking missing out on realising full potential for exploiting the wealthier educational materials available in the English language, in comparison with the French variety.
The 150 students from various institutions already taking part in the maiden intake are a testimony that both the British Council and Rwandans are happy to cooperate. The Council should be encouraged by the fact that French speakers almost always make good English students.
This again is motivation for both parties. The students are fast learners, while the teachers witness positive impact from their efforts in an unusually quick way. Let the desire to master English applications in research on websites and forums be the incentive for the students.
And with availability of dictionaries, British Council as an institution of tremendous experience in training is in for a surprise about what it might achieve in a relatively short period of time.