By Bukar Bolori
The teaching of French language may return to many public schools in Lagos State as the government of the state has signed a letter of intent for the promotion of the language in the State.
The letter was signed on Wednesday by the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat and the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Mrs Emmanuelle Blatmann, in the presence of French Minister of State for development, francophonie and international partnerships, Dr. Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, who was on a visit to Nigeria.
The Minister said: “French is a language of culture, but also a language of business and opportunities for all those who learn it. Our language creates links between populations of 88 countries across the world. It is amazing to see the demand for learning French in Nigeria, and we are delighted to work with the state of Lagos to support access to French classes.”
The letter marks the renewal cooperation and support for the promotion of the French language in public schools.
In Lagos State, the cooperation with the French Embassy is long-standing and fruitful, and the Government of Lagos State has regularly expressed interest in promoting the teaching of French language.
The signature of this letter of intent is an opportunity to reconfirm the past commitments but also to mark the official launch of an ambitious program to modernize the teaching and learning of French in public secondary schools.
For several years now, the cooperation for the promotion of teaching and learning French materializes has taken a number of different forms. There is of course the beautiful Alliance Française-Mike Adenuga Centre, which is a local non-profit organization, seen as the flagship of the Alliances Françaises’ worldwide network.
The cultural centre acclaimed by Nigerians is also a linguistic center for adults wishing to learn French, and prepare for official French certifications.
In 2022, 2,042 learners (children and adults) obtained the DELF, an internationally recognized diploma that provides access to academic or professional opportunities in French-speaking countries.
It should be noted that the branch of Alliance Française Lagos in Ikeja is hosted by the Lagos State Ministry of Education since 2006, which has allowed more Lagossians to be exposed to the French language and to the francophone cultures.
Another example of the cooperation between France and Nigeria is the Lycée français Louis Pasteur of Lagos.
The school welcomes students of all nationalities and makes this cultural diversity bear fruit through an innovative pedagogy and a spirit of openness, with particular emphasis on language learning. By cultivating intercultural communication and understanding, the Lycée français forges lasting affinities between these students and France.
The foundations of the educational and linguistic cooperation are now laid with the appointment of a French technical expert who will be positioned within the Ministry of Education of Lagos State as French language advisor. The expert will advise the Ministry on improving teacher training while overseeing an innovative project in 10 public pilot schools.
This project should also scale-up French’s position as a language of communication by providing modern educational resources and by creating French radio and podcasts programs. All this will allow for more regular practice of oral skills, and better preparation for DELF exams.