English language issue in Rwanda: An educational, globalisation and economic development trend

Part 2 Our goods have to go through two or more countries before they come to Rwanda. And all these countries; Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda speak English.
A teacher using English as a medium of instruction.
A teacher using English as a medium of instruction.

Part 2

Our goods have to go through two or more countries before they come to Rwanda. And all these countries; Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda speak English.

So, the use of English as a medium of instruction is just an excellent calculated move in the right direction. It is absolutely necessary that poor as we are, our administration, management and workers fully understand international and economic needs, views, attitudes and preferences of today.

This is particularly important if we were to improve on our business concerns, where English language is multi-dimensional. Look at things like Internet; it is all founded in English.

Learning in English language would avoid producing half-baked graduates who cannot compete internationally. There is a need to work and communicate with the rest of the world. The economy today is knowledge-based aiming at exporting skills in terms of human resource.

It is clear from these arguments that knowledge and economic development should be separated from linguistic emotions and sensational tendencies that are typical of French Assimilation system. 

Rwandans are looking forward to overcoming those bad days by working with other nations—the trend even stronger nations are advocating.

Banyarwanda have it that; ’Imfubyi ibaga yotsa’.  The implication is that an orphan, as a symbol of poverty and helplessness, should use the little opportunity s/he gets since s/he does not have many of them—and so are Rwandans today, they have to use the chance of economic liberalisation around the world by working with stronger nations by concentrating on WHAT and HOW strong Nations are doing.

The Guardian newspaper’s survey (2002), too, clearly shows the unstoppable capacity of English language today. It reported that two thirds of French people are now acknowledging the superior usefulness of English.

The paper argues that the high point of Anglo-American linguistic hegemony was the Voyager space probe with its message of ‘peace and goodwill’ for the people of outer space.
In order to reduce Rwanda’s poverty and high rate of unemployment, the Rwandan government has to seriously work with other nations that have credibility in development by sharing ideas.

What the government of Rwanda should concentrate on is to ensure that its education system and training are adequate for economic challenges it is facing.

Here the up-to-date information about development in other countries becomes important because it enables policy makers and others to be kept informed about how other countries are dealing with similar issues, such as linguistic concerns.

Arguably, when one looks at the tremendous developments that Rwanda has achieved through international cooporations, such as DFID from Britain, frankly speaking, it is all attributed to Rwanda’s new relationship with the outside world from which it had been closed for a long time due to myopic politics before 1994.

For some Rwandans, while French is for emotional and sensational satisfaction, English is for survival. If Rwanda does not respond to global demands so as to keep up with world views and modernity, Rwandans will be left with a more or less self-regulating government that simply creates a world in its own image as the government becomes less and less able to sustain the regulatory and social welfare mechanisms.

Language policy is part of educational policy, which is itself determined by the overall societal goals of the community in question. If there is one set of skills that all global citizens ought to possess, it is to communicate and have a minimum linguistic command in a language which is widely spoken by many people. 

The part played by the scientific community in the dissemination of information and knowledge-for which young people are hungry through English language, is irresistible.

Scientific endeavour transcends national boundaries, and scientific communication has fastened on English as the most developed and capable medium for the transmission of new ideas.

A Guardian newspaper survey (2002) reported that: more than half of the world’s scientific journals are in English. Hand-in-hand with science, the massive impact of the Internet has been unimaginably important. 80% of home pages on the web are in English, compared to 4.5% German and 3.1% Japanese.

The worldwide web and the Internet are post-national, if anything is. Commodities such as Coca-cola, burgers, MTV, World Cup football, the Olympics and funerals of royals like the Princes of Wales are no longer exclusive to one nation.

This whole panoply of consumer-targeted and monopoly-ridden material is nothing else but what I may baptise ‘the infotainment telesector’.

In an nut shell, like it or not, the instrumental appeal for English language today far outweighs the negative factors associated with it and the pragmatic recognition of what it can offer to Rwandans, is evident in the steady increasing demand for it.

Even higher institutions of learning are becoming aware of this fact. The former traditionally strong Afrikaans University of Stellenbosch in South Africa is a case in point. It is becoming more affirmatively dual-medium-WHY NOT, IF NOT, FOR RWANDA?

Contact: ndabaga@yahoo.com

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