After much deliberation, consultations, capacity building workshops and retreats, the cabinet passed the all important decision that decreed English as the main language of instruction for all school going children.
During the same week that cabinet made their decision known to the whole country, an international conference held in Nyandundu -where else? - was discussing redeveloping a curriculum for countries emerging out of conflicts.
Many of the countries participating were mainly former French colonies - save for the UN!
Anyhow, the change from Franco to Anglo for pupils is a welcome decision but it is shrouded in some confusion. As one market vendor in Kacyiru recently observed: “is it not the same government that was at loggerheads with students some years back after they had refused to take the mandatory French course before entry into tertiary institutions?”
The students who were only familiar with English were protesting the policy of the mandatory French course. Now like the biblical Saul who after pursuing Christian converts felt sympathetic to them and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, turned into Paul and joined the Christian crusade, the government saw the English light.
With English speaking countries contributing largely to the economic survival either in terms of aid or trading partners, it was only prudent to change and realign the labour resources and the paperwork.
The decision however was received with mixed reactions in a social club in the vicinity of Village Urugwiro (or is it Urugwiro Village?).
Member one: English is here. Now we all have to learn the language, if not to get jobs to be able to communicate with the enormous number of tourists and development partners interested in Rwanda today.
Member two: I badly need to learn English, that way I will able to get a job in the Vision 2020 Inc. I never had a chance to learn French beyond ‘senkanti’ (fifty) maybe I will easily remember English words like Wayne Rooney.
Member three: You are all wrong, English is just a language like Kinya-rwanda, and if you want a job you must be able to sell something to a prospective employer. What can both of you do? Apart from drinking brew that costs only Senkanti?
Member four: To answer your question, I can carry 100 bags of cement from point A to point B in one day.
Member five: By the time Vision 2020 becomes a reality we shall be speaking Chinese!