Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No more French unless France recolonises Rwanda”

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By RNA Reporters
Monday, 14 September 2009

Kigali: As the fallout over the implementation of the shift from French to English rages on, a top cabinet official has made it clear that the road away from French is unstoppable, RNA reports.

New Education Minister Dr. Charles Murigande shut the door to any more discussion over the policy with the strongest comments ever made by a top government official. Dr. Murigande said Sunday that everything is on course for all schools to start teaching in English.

“There is no turning back to French as a language of instruction in this country,” he said to an audience of journalists and stakeholders, while pounding his table. “We have switched to English forever.”

Government has argued that taking up English simply reinforces Rwanda’s position in the international system. However critics accuse government of abandoning a constitutional stipulation which makes Rwanda a country with three languages English, French and Kinyarwanda.

Last week one of the fiercest critics of government Mr. Paul Rusesabagina – the exiled face behind the Hollywood movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’, also raised his toughest attacks.

He claimed in a BBC program that a “small group of between 30,000 and 40,000 people who came from Uganda” is imposing English on the whole country.

Mr. Rusesabagina has launched a campaign to ensure Rwanda is not allowed into the British Commonwealth group of nations. Officials just brushed off these latest actions by the man accused here of seeking to acquire fame from the country’s suffering.

Rwanda has been French-speaking for ages which completely disqualifies it outrightly from the British grouping, argues Mr. Rusesabagina. But supporters of Kigali have branded him as irrelevant.

For Education Minister Dr. Murigande, who is not new to very strong comments against France, the road to ending French is no room for compromise.

Rwanda, he told his audience Sunday, will never go back to French “unless France recolonises Africa”.

About two years ago, Dr. Murigande, when he was Foreign Affairs Minister told RNA in a wide ranging interview: “We were killed by the French in the name of Francophonie” referring to the grouping of French colonies.

Government is finalizing plans to build thousands of new classrooms across the country in time for the start in January of the nine-year basic education program. Education officials also want the expansion program to come with a phasing-in of English in all schools as the language of instruction.

Science subjects are already being taught in English and universities have all switched all instruction to English.

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