By DAYO ADESULU
The Rivers State Government says it will host the 2014 National French Competition for secondary school students in the country later this year. The Commissioner for Education, Dame Alice Lawrence-Nemi stated this while welcoming the Director of Alliance Française, Port Harcourt, Mrs Helene Okutue and the executive members of Nigerian Association of French Teachers (NAFT) in her office in Port Harcourt.
The Commissioner hinted that the state will partner with Alliance Française and the National Association of French Teachers, NAFT, to ensure smooth hosting of the competition in Rivers State. Lawrence-Nemi said that the world is becoming a global village and the need to embrace another foreign language was necessary. ‘’French is very important because we cannot live with only one language.
With what is going on now globally, every child deserves to learn a second language. Rivers State is very traditional in the sense that French has been a language our teachers teach in our schools, and on behalf of Rivers State, we will partner with you to enable us host the National French Competition in the state,’’ she said.
Mrs Okutue stated that Rivers State won the bid because of its two previous victories in the drama competition.
Port Harcourt, said Lawrence-Nemi, is the hub of oil and gas business in West Africa, stressing that the study of the language will boost trade among our French-speaking neighbours. The Education boss noted that French multinationals like Total E&P and Air France have partnered with the ministry in the development of education in the state. She said that the state is not only building infrastructure but is laying emphasis on the study of French Language.
She pointed out that the state government is not relegating indigenous languages to the background and hinted that her ministry has drafted the curriculum for the study of indigenous languages in the state. Governor Rotimi Amaechi ensured that not only foreign languages are being taught in our schools but local languages too and we have done a curriculum for that and we are teaching our children so that we do not lose our mother tongue,’’ she said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Barr. Michael West said the French Language is very important to the state “because we have to give our children the competitive edge in a globalized world.”
Mrs Helene Okutue commended Lawrence-Nemi for organising the French Teachers’ workshop in September 2013, noting that the training was fruitful because the teachers are more confident in the teaching of the language.
She pleaded with the Commissioner to make this training a yearly training for French teachers in the state adding that the Ministry can even increase the training to two times in a year.
On its part, the President of NAFT, Rivers State Chapter, Mrs Sarah Blackduke commended the Rivers State Government for their investment in the education sector.