By Besha K. Kalinda
Currently, French remains the international language mostly spoken in the Economic Community of West African States because Liberia is part of this organization.
A Liberian student who speaks French and English wants to increase his chances to continue his school or to get a job not only in Liberia, but in Togo, Guinea Mali, Benin, Ivory Coast, and Senegal among others.
During the Liberian civil War (1990-2003), more Liberians crossed to neighboring countries. While waiting for peace to return to their homeland, they were forced to learn to express themselves in French language for benefit to the education, job and other opportunities that the two host countries offered to them.
It’s under this circumstance that Mr. Gautier BOU, a Liberian, Assistant Professor at the University of Liberia learned French when he was refugee in Ivory Coast. “I was a little boy, my first time to sit on a school bench, to write and read was at an Ivorian public school, where I obtained my certificate of primary, secondary and professional school. The school is called CPSP. Some courses were given in French language.”
Thus, when Liberian refugees were repatriated, French language was one of the cultural treasures carried from Guinea and Ivory Coast. They have been well exploited taking advantages until now. Madam Deborah Bombo, a Liberian who studied at the refugee camp in Guinea, where she was based during the war time recognized that the French she learned in Guinea and developed in the Alliance Française is very helpful.
“Being bilingual, I am more requested for the translation of English –French. I am accepted in some companies for a post,” she said.
Unfortunately, the French still neglect in menu school in Liberia’s school. Globalization requires the billing, two or plus knowledge in international language for cooperation, French language runs up several obstacles in Liberia. According to Mr. Antony Kolli, the Director of the Foreign Language Department at the Education Ministry of Liberia, all schools under Liberia’s Education Ministry must teach French in their program.
On the field, the reality about who are teaching and what they teaching, is choice. There is not an identical methodology for the French teaching. Everyone resumes French courses like he knows. The native people are teaching the French learned abroad where they were refugees; the non- natives, majority from French countries are teaching the French the way it’s taught in their original States.
According to Mr. Albert Folkpa, president of the National Association of the Liberia’s French teachers, the French programs to Liberia is in crisis since 2000, after the closure of the French institute of Liberia that supported and trained the French teachers. But in 2007, the French Embassy sent fourteen French teachers for training in village Benin, the international center of French language of Benin.
French teachers in Liberia education system have more challenges. Mr. FOLKPA said currently the government of Liberia on action plan in collaboration with the French Embassy of Liberia have prelaunch a bilateral program between the Education Ministry and France. “We hope French teaching will soon be better than the last years,” Mr FOLKPA. Evidently, the Alliance Française has reopened doors in Liberia last week. The registration for the students is in process and class will start on January 7, 2021.