Teachers petition gov’t over declining enrollment of French learners

Members of the Association of French Teachers in Uganda petitioned Minister Rebecca Kadaga eager to promote French as an official language of the East African Community.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Association of Teachers of French in Uganda has petitioned the Ministry of East African Community Affairs to lobby for a functional foreign languages policy.

The association, an umbrella body of over 300 French language speaking adherents, delivered their petition through the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community Affairs Rebecca Kadaga.

Led by Agatha Tumwine, the Association’s President-elect, a lecturer of French in the Department of European and Oriental Languages at Makerere University, the petitioners cited a sharp decline in the number of French candidates in different schools in the country.

Tumwine later told URN that in 2019, prior to the disruptive outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 391 candidates sat for French under the Uganda National Examination Board-UNEB. However, the figure drastically dropped to 197 in 2020.

Meanwhile, Dr Milburga Atcero, the Association’s Honorary President says lack of a clear foreign language policy, lack of sensitization about the importance of international languages and negative subject choice policy at Advanced level classes continues to impact French negatively.

Dr Atcero, also a senior lecturer at the Department of Leisure and Hospitality Management, Makerere University Business School-MUBS and Special Advisor of the Association of Teachers of French in Africa and the Indian Ocean recommended intentional recruitment of more teachers of French in public secondary schools for the benefit of the future generation.

The petitioners emphasized the need for teaching French with specific purposes for professional development. They asked Kadaga, through her Ministry to lobby the government to reinforce the National Curriculum Development Centre-NCDC’s policy to enable compulsory integration and learning of French in secondary schools and universities.

Responding to the petition, Kadaga pledged to take on the task and prepare a Cabinet paper to be presented to government for appropriate strategies to develop and implement to promote the language.

Kadaga reiterated that in November 2021, the East African Council of Ministers endorsed French as a third official language of the member states that include Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda pending the admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC, and will make its use inevitable.

Available statistics indicate that French is being offered in 36 primary schools, mostly private, in 270 and 86 O and A’level secondary schools respectively and eight Universities, including a few in tertiary institutions, yet over 80 per cent of French teachers are not on the government payroll.



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