The Scholarships Secretariat has launched the President’s Special Initiative to encourage the learning of the French language in higher institutions of learning.
Under the initiative, the President’s Special Initiative in Advance Studies of French Language in All Language Institutions in Ghana, Ghanaian students pursuing higher learning in French would benefit from a scholarship, a collaboration between the Scholarships Secretariat and the French government.
The move is part of the government’s programme to scale up exponentially the teaching and learning of French at all levels, particularly, at the higher level, to produce enough lecturers and teachers.
A Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, who launched the initiative, said the colleges of education that were producing teachers to teach the language would require lecturers who possessed PhDs in French, while others would also require Master’s and first degrees to also teach at various levels.
He said because the system would require people with those qualifications to teach, he encouraged the universities whose products were going to benefit from the scholarship to develop their curriculum to include French.
Dr Adutwum said the government with the support of the French Embassy had embarked on a dual system where some basic school pupils were being taught in both English and French and this would be extended to more schools in future.
He said the concentration of the native tongue would limit Ghanaians to only their country and not be exposed to the opportunities available elsewhere.
Research has it that, there were 76 million native speakers of French, 235 million daily fluent speakers and 110 million secondary speakers across the world, meaning learning French would offer a great opportunity.
Dr Adutwum said Ghana had signed a pact with Francophonie to become part of the fraternity and it was working strenuously to ensure that more Ghanaians spoke and wrote the French language.
He said Ghana was fortunate to be surrounded by three French-speaking countries and such openings should be exploited for business and employment benefits.
“Not that French binds us together in West Africa, we also have a great opportunity in terms of economics if we speak French,” he added.
Dr Adutwum said Ghanaian French-speaking doctors, teachers, engineers, architects and other professionals would attract more clientele because those from the neighbouring nations would flood such service providers.
The Registrar of the Scholarships Secretariat, Kingsley Agyemang, said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who spoke fluent French, had a vision and commitment to transform the educational system at all levels and as a result proclaimed Ghana as being on the heels of full-fledged membership of the International Organisation of La Francophonie.
He said it was for that reason that a policy decision had been taken to mainstream the study of the French language right from the basic level of education which would result in the hike of the enrolment of student’s studying French.
Explaining the process, Mr Agyemang said the secretariat and the French Embassy would form a joint committee that would administer the scholarships and they would commence with the publications of the number of people who would qualify each year.
He said beneficiaries would sign an agreement and the condition would include maintaining good academic standing throughout the duration of the programme in order to continue to receive funding while the beneficiaries would sign a bond that they would return to Ghana to serve after their studies.
Touching on the benefits of studying French, he said, it was necessary because French was one of the important global working business languages and useful for international relations because it was spoken by almost all international organisations.
He added that speaking French would open up opportunities to study in renowned French universities and make visits to French-speaking countries enjoyable.
Mr Agyemang mentioned that in the annals of the secretariat which would be 60 years next year, this was the first time that any government had introduced an annual research and conference allowance to government-sponsored doctoral students abroad.