Should The Teaching of French Be Compulsory in Educational Institutions in Ghana?

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There are concerns raised by agencies and institutions of education as well as well-meaning organizations on the need to make the teaching and learning of the French subject compulsory in the various educational institutions in Ghana, especially at the Primary and Senior High school levels. The strategic location of Ghana on the African continent is often cited by many of these advocates for the compulsory introduction of the French subject in educational institutions in Ghana. The neighboring countries that share close boundaries with Ghana are largely francophone countries, thus, Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. Therefore, to enhance bilateral relations and social interactions, advocates argue for the compulsory learning of the French language which is the primary means of interaction with members of these countries.

Also, there are often many educational opportunities sometimes fully or partially funded in many francophone countries in the world. To boost the chances of young Ghanaian elites to pursue further studies in such countries, knowing how to speak and express themselves in the French language would certainly widen their placement opportunities in their educational institutions.

Moreover, for job and employment placements, multi-language persons are more advantaged than single-language individuals. This is often true in the area of ​​hospitality and tourism where workers interact with clients from diverse countries, speaking different languages. Thus, being able to speak the French language aside from the English language would be an added advantage. Business tycoons in Ghana who are well-versed in the French language often get the opportunities to have transparent business transactions with their French partners with no difficulties. This ensures the promotion of their businesses.

Notwithstanding these benefits, there are many obstacles that can obstruct the acceptance of the compulsory learning of the French subject as part of the curriculum to be taught students in the educational institutions in Ghana. The cardinal problem has to do with boosting the interest in the learning of the French language. The language is seen by many young and matured Ghanaian students as very difficult. This unfortunate picture of the subject is attributed to the disdain attitudes of the early French teachers who lacked the patience to deal with the learning frailties of students. As such, many are scared by the mere mention of learning French. Another great challenge is associated with the low enrollment of teachers who opt to teach the French language in the various higher institutions of learning in education in Ghana. The always dwindling numbers in trainee teachers for the French subject results in a higher deficit in teachers to teach the numerous students scattered in the various educational institutions in Ghana.

Also, there is the lack of educational resources and efficient technologies in the educational institutions in Ghana to boost the interest and lessen the stress in the teaching and learning of the French subject. This has been the ultimate source of the frustrations often experienced by teachers and learners of the French subject in Ghana.

Moreover, since French is a language, many educationists are much concerned about the learning difficulty of the language for students with high ages in higher educational institutions in Ghana. Thus, they argue that the learning of the subject would be very effective if it commences in the early development of the child at the lower levels of education.

The teaching and learning of French are very important and as such, the government and other corporate agencies must aid in arresting the standing blocks to the effective teaching and learning of the subject. For instance, schools must be stocked with the necessary resources such as textbooks, audio, and video files that would boost the interest in the learning of the French language. Trainee teachers must be encouraged and offered incentives in the form of scholarships and grants to opt for the specialization in the teaching of French so that the challenge of lack of French teachers would be curtailed. The teaching and learning of the subject must also start from the elementary levels of education, in the formative stages of learners so that the interest in the learning of the subject can be nurtured in the early stages of their education careers.

Yet, the issue of making it compulsory hinges on arresting the aforementioned challenges that stifle the interest in the teaching and learning of the subject. Of course, the situation largely rests in the hands of policy makers and the government of Ghana. However, through consultations with key and experienced educationists as well as relevant agencies in charge of education, they can arrive at a better consensus decision as to making the learning of the French subject compulsory or optional. But as a scholar and an astute researcher, I opine that the time is not ripe in Ghana for the fruition of a legislation to make the study of the French language compulsory. It is still a far-fetched, future decision to be made amidst the grandiose challenges confronting its implementation in Ghana.


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by Dickson Adom

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