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Francophonie Day Celebrations Climax with Calls for Gov’t, Schools to Prioritize French Language :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Francophonie Day Celebrations Climax with Calls for Gov’t, Schools to Prioritize French Language

One by one teachers who attended the event called on the government to empower French learning and encouraged school heads to embrace the language, claiming that it has an important role in opening employment opportunities for students.
Cynthia, the President of International Asosciation of French Teachers

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Members of the Association of Teachers of French in Uganda have urged the government and school owners nationwide to prioritize the French language, citing its significance in providing students with valuable opportunities for their future careers.   

The call came at the culmination of the two-month-long Francophonie Celebrations, which began in March and concluded on April 14, 2024. The closing ceremony occurred at Shree Sahajanad School in Bukoto on Sunday evening.   Francophonie Day, observed annually on March 20th, commemorates the founding of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT) in Niamey, Niger, on March 20, 1970. 

Its primary objective is to promote the French language and international cooperation. In Uganda, the Association of Teachers of French organized celebrations across various regions, including Mukono, Masaka, and Northern Uganda, over two months. Many schools teaching French participated in events where students engaged in activities such as singing and poetry—all conducted in French.

At Shree Sahajanad School, students from seven schools, including Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga, Uganda Martyrs SS Namagunga, Kitante Hill School, St. Peters SS Nsambya, and Hillside Primary School Naalya, performed songs and poems in French.   

During the event, teachers emphasized the importance of empowering French learning and encouraged school heads to embrace the language, highlighting its role in opening employment opportunities for students.     Cynthia Eid, President of the International Association of French Teachers, described French as a "world passport," emphasizing its value in providing diverse career opportunities for students. She advocated for students' freedom to choose the languages they wish to study, emphasizing the importance of multilingualism.  

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In the Ugandan curriculum, the French language is offered as an elective subject at the lower secondary level. However, it is primarily offered in private schools and urban areas due to a shortage of teachers in many schools.   In 2022, the Association of Teachers of French in Uganda petitioned the Ministry of East African Community Affairs to advocate for a functional foreign language policy.

The association cited a significant decline in the number of French candidates in different schools across the country.   Agatha Tumwine Magezi, President of the Association of Teachers of French in Uganda, emphasized the importance of sensitizing school heads on the significance of languages like French to ensure students are not deprived of opportunities in the future.

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Students of French interviewed expressed their appreciation for the language, highlighting the opportunities it creates for international interaction and career development.  

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French is one of the most spoken languages globally, with over 300 million speakers, 44% of whom reside in Africa. It serves as the main language of international bodies such as the United Nations and the European Union. Predictions indicate its global speakers could reach 700 million by 2050, with 80% residing in Africa.  

In 2021, French was endorsed as the third official language of the East African Community (EAC), following English and Kiswahili, as the EAC welcomed three Francophone countries—Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—as new member states.