10/03/2009

SWITCH AWAY FROM FRENCH TO ENGLISH IS IRREVERSIBLE

Some may have felt that the Rwandan authorities' decision to drop French in favor of English would be short-lived. Yet they are as resolute as ever to punish the genocidal ambitions of la Francophonie:

RWANDA SAYS ITS SWITCH AWAY FROM FRENCH TO ENGLISH IS IRREVERSIBLE

KIGALI, Sept 15 (NNN-RNA) -- As the fallout over Rwanda's implementation of the shift from French to English as the medium of instruction in schools rages on, a top Cabinet official has made it clear that the road away from French is unstoppable.

The new Education Minister, Dr. Charles Murigande, has shut the door to any more discussion over the policy with the strongest comments ever made by a top government official. Dr. Murigande said Sunday that everything is on course for all schools to start teaching in English.

"There is no turning back to French as a language of instruction in this country," he said to an audience of journalists and stakeholders, while pounding the table. “We have switched to English forever."

The government has argued that taking up English simply reinforces Rwanda’s position in the international system. However, critics accuse the government of abandoning a constitutional stipulation which makes Rwanda a country with three languages -- English, French and Kinyarwanda.

Last week, one of the fiercest critics of government, Paul Rusesabagina -– the exiled face behind the Hollywood movie "Hotel Rwanda", also launched his strongest attacks, claiming in a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme that a "small group of between 30,000 and 40,000 people who came from Uganda" is imposing English on the whole country.

Rusesabagina has launched a campaign to ensure that Rwanda is not allowed into the British Commonwealth group of nations. Officials just brushed off these latest actions by the man accused here of seeking to acquire fame from the country’s suffering.

Rwanda has been French-speaking for ages which completely disqualifies it outrightly from the British grouping, argues Rusesabagina but supporters of Kigali have branded him as irrelevant.

For Education Minister Dr. Murigande, who is not new to very strong comments against France, the road to ending French is no room for compromise. Rwanda, he told his audience Sunday, will never go back to French "unless France re-colonises Africa".

About two years ago, Dr. Murigande, when he was Foreign Affairs Minister, told RNA in a wide ranging interview: "We were killed by the French in the name of Francophonie", referring to the grouping of French colonies.

The government is finalizing plans to build thousands of new classrooms across the country in time for the start in January of the nine-year basic education programme. Education officials also want the expansion programme to come with a phasing-in of English in all schools as the language of instruction.

Science subjects are already being taught in English and universities have all switched all instruction to English. - NNN-RNA


7 comments:

Ronduck said...

Slightly off topic, but considering the slaughter that took place in that country Rwanda should be divided into two countries - one for each tribe.

Unfrench Frenchman said...

Is it feasible? Reading reports about Rwanda I was under the impression that there isn't a clear-cut Tutsi-dominated area vs. a Hutu-majority one.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I think that if Rwanda's economy and standards of living improve if the switch to English works, I do think (as Unfrench said in an earlier post) there could be a domino effect if their Francophone neighbors imitate them. I doubt that all will completely reject French the way the current Rwandan government has done, but I predict their will be a new emphasis on teaching English to everybody, not just the children of certain elites.

Unfrench Frenchman said...

I don't doubt that the switch to English will succeed in Rwanda. Nevertheless, improving standards of living significantly will be tremendously difficult as it has always been for nations living in tropical climes. Who has ever been in the tropics knows how difficult it is to work there.
Besides, while I think there might be a domino effect following Rwanda's shift to English, I think the growing demographic importance of Nigeria is a far more decisive phenomenon as it will inevitably serve to destabilize the whole region at some point -- to the detriment of French.

Ronduck said...

I mentioned the partition of Rwanda precisely because countries with two hostile ethnic groups are often hard to administer, and therefore often poorer than they could be. Having one ethnic group in each country by itself goes with my belief in English as an international language. I imagine a world where each group can live in its own country, revere its own history and only need to learn a single international language to deal with the rest of the world. If Rwanda were partitioned each country would teach its children in their native tongue and the upper class would learn English as a second language in order to trade and engage in diplomacy.

Personally, I think the hatred that drove one tribe to liquidate the other is still there. If a new conflict were to breakout then the country would naturally polarize along ethnic lines, with members of each tribe fleeing to areas with a majority of their co-ethnics. After the country separates that way a region may decide to secede in order to setup an ethnic homeland.

The other possibility is that one of the neighboring powers may decide to intervene in order to back one or the other tribes. Such intervention is even more likely since the tribes have large numbers of their own kind in neighboring countries.

Nasty partitions have occurred in Europe, sometimes with one or another group ending up being expelled.

I'm not advocating for anyone to suffer, but the best way to avoid another slaughter is to not have each group near each other in every neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Hutu and Tutsi are social divisions. Both are in the Banyarwanda ethnic group.

Anonymous said...

Both Hutus and Tutsis are Banyarwanda people, same ethnic group. Hutu are Tutsi are social divisons