Stakeholders in the education sector including teachers and students from the Department of Foreign Languages have emphasised the need for government to make French the second official language in the country as part of efforts to promote the language, and create passion for learners.
This was the position of participants at the end of the 4th biennial international conference of the department of foreign languages, University of Benin, where teachers from across the country advocated the promotion of French studies in Nigeria.
Keynote speaker, Prof. Remi Sonaiya at the event themed, “The importance of the teacher in the promotion of French studies,” urged French teachers to consistently upgrade knowledge in order to remain relevant in a globalised world ruled by Information and Communication Technology (ICT), saying it has been observed to be very difficult promoting disciplines in the humanities due to the importance attached to sciences.
Sonaiya implored French teachers not to be satisfied with only doing the job and earning salaries but also to passionately impact the society with their knowledge of French.Head of Department, Foreign Languages, Dr. Stella Omonigho said the conference was aimed at discussing how French teachers can motivate and steer up national interest in the language towards making the 1996 declaration by former Head of State, Late Gen. Sani Abacha (rtd) on making French the second official language in the country.
Omonigho who stated that the study of French can not be over emphasised said as custodians of the language in Nigeria, French teachers and stakeholders are to determine the extent they want to take the language to and whether Nigerians develop passion for it or not.
At the end of the five-day conference, the teachers tasked the French embassy alongside other francophone countries in Nigeria to show more commitment to the teaching and learning of French language.They also enjoined the various associations of French teachers to mobilse their members to ensure the realisation of the provisions of the national policy on education as it concerns French at the primary and secondary school levels as well as the National Universities Commission (NUC) BMAS, which makes the language a compulsory general studies course in tertiary institutions.
They particularly frowned at the practice of compelling French teachers to teach other subjects by the ministries of education and sometimes principals of secondary schools and sued for an end to such practices.
They however urged the federal and state ministries of Education to provide a platform for seasoned French lecturers to serve as voluntary inspectors to primary and secondary schools.
The convener, Prof. Cyril Mokwenye who is also the pioneer Editor-in-Chief of the journal domiciled in the department, “Le Bronze University of Benin journal of French studies” was honoured as a special edition was unveiled in his honour.
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Mokwenye encouraged all French teachers to x-ray their contributions at all the stages of learning and explore areas that need to be improved upon, just as he called on the Federal Government to see possible way of collaboration with embassies of francophone countries in ensuring that the language policy of French being the second official language in the country became a reality.