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General News Wed, 10 Sep 2008

Bi-lingual sign posts in Ghana ?

Accra, Sept. 10, GNA - Mrs Brigitte Girardin, Special Representative of La Francophonie, has proposed that sign posts at Ghana's entry points, tourist sites and international areas should be written in both English and French to strengthen economic, political and cultural cooperation between Ghana and her Francophonie partners. "It will be in the best interest of Ghana as a matter of economic, political, academic and cultural cooperation to write sign posts at the suggested areas in both French and English so that business persons and tourists from the Francophonie countries would feel more welcome into Ghana," she told journalists.

Mrs Girardin ends a four-day working visit to Ghana on Wednesday at the request of La Francophonie Secretary-General, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Diouf to explore ways of improving the learning, understanding and speaking of the French language in Ghana, especially French for business.

Ghana was promoted from being one of 14 observer countries to an associate member of the French-led Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, also known as La Francophonie during the 2006 Bucharest Summit of Heads of Government of La Francophonie states. Even though Ghana is an Anglophone country, she is surrounded by three Francophone countries, Togo on the east, Cote d'Ivoire on the west and Burkina Faso up north.

It is therefore prudent for Ghanaians to learn to communicate in the French language with her neighbours and ensure better socio-economic and cultural integration in the sub-region.

Mrs Girardin noted that the government of Ghana was under no pressure from La Francophonie to institute a bi-lingual sign post system, but there was already a strong political will from the government of Ghana to embrace the proposal.

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She said Ghana and the six other non-French speaking countries selected to join La Francophone during the Bucharest Summit were chosen as model countries to show how inventive the promotion of French language could be for countries.

"Ghana made the right choice in becoming a member of La Francophonie because there are lots of economic, educational and cultural opportunities for Ghana to benefit from," she said. Mrs Girardin said part of her assignment in Ghana was also to strengthen French language skills of Ghanaian diplomats and public officers acting in international fields, increase the number of teachers for French language in Senior High and tertiary education and develop partnership for French teaching with private companies and non-governmental organizations.

She noted that currently there was a shortfall of 4,000 French teachers at the Junior and Senior High levels in Ghana and La Francophonie was working hard to help Ghana make up for the shortfall, but the major initiatives would have to be driven by the government of Ghana itself.

"Even though French is the common language in La Francophonie we do not intend to impose the French language on member countries in a manner that would be disrespectful to their own cultural values and national languages - and members are also allowed to promote their cultures and languages within La Francophonie."

She said beyond using French as a common communication denominator within La Francophonie, countries were required to have a good record in the promotion of the culture of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights to become and to maintain their membership. While in the country, Mrs Girardin held separate meetings with Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, some ministers of state and groups involved in the teaching and promotion of the French language in Ghana to collate ideas on what major actions to be tabled at the at the October's Heads of Government meeting in Quebec, Canada.

Source: GNA
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