Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has given the green light for deliberations on making the French language compulsory from primary to senior high school education levels.
The president expects its implementation to be rolled out by the next academic year in September to empower the capacity of Ghanaians in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region.
“We’ll want to make French a compulsory language in our schools right until the end of the Senior High School … To me, it is absolutely essential that we do so, so that we empower our own population with the capacity to survive in this ECOWAS environment,” the president said in neighbouring Togo during a three-country tour on Thursday.
Ghana is bordered by French-speaking countries – Togo, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso – and is a member of the ECOWAS that includes eight French-speaking countries out of fifteen.
We’ll want to make French a compulsory language in our schools right until the end of the Senior High School ... To me, it is absolutely essential that we do so, so that we empower our own population with the capacity to survive in this ECOWAS environment.
“People around us speak English and we don’t speak French, what is that? No, it is not good. I am interested in it, my Minister of Education is interested in it and we would try and work it out to see how it works,” the president added.
French is currently being taught as a subject together with local languages in Ghana’s basic schools and Junior High Schools, but as an option in Senior High Schools.
Despite a positive response from the education ministry and the association of teachers, some experts have differed on making the French language compulsory at the expense of other African languages spoken widely in the continent.
A lecturer at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana, Dr. Obadele Kambo told local radio station Citi FM that the African unity goal will be promoted by the study of African languages instead.
“If we can really start to understand that we are African people, then we can go beyond just looking at the Western languages of our colonial enemies and western languages of our villages to actually learning other African languages. And when we do that, we will be building African collectiveness,” he said.
Ghanaian journalist Kwesi Pratt also suggested that the Hausa language is more appropriate if ECOWAS integration is the main reason for making French compulsory.
“If you want to introduce common language in West Africa to facilitate trade and so forth, the most widely spoken language in West Africa is Hausa not French or English. I don’t know anywhere in Ghana that they don’t speak Hausa,” he said on local radio Peace FM.
“If we are taking a global approach to language as an instrument for business and so on, why French? Why not Chinese? Chinese is more widely spoken than French … Chinese is becoming an international language today,” he added.
English is the official language in Ghana and a medium of instruction in schools.
Below are some social media comments on the president’s decision.
Pls master President making French compulsory in Ghana's school is quite difficult— Justice Quayson (@JusticeQuayson7) May 4, 2017
Francophone countries don't even learn our local language but here in Ghana if you make a mistake in a french class the teacher will diss u— Fawaz🇬🇭 (@fawaz_ig) May 5, 2017
— Peter K. Assanful Jr (ApostleAssanful) May 4, 2017
Citi973If Ghana can nakr French compulsory. .then Twi shpuld also be compulsory
— Nana Ama A. Asante (JustNanaAma) May 4, 2017
eastsportsmanI'm not saying people shouldn't learn French. I don't see why it should be compulsory for Ghanaians to learn French in Ghana. Whatever for.