The Independent (Kampala)

27 March 2012

Uganda: English Language No Longer an Issue, Teachers Say

Rwanda teachers in high schools have said that the issue of communication in English is fading off with time. This was disclosed in a one day work shop for teachers in high schools organised by Ministry of East African Community (EAC).

Ever since English was declared as the only language of instruction in schools, teachers and learners with a strong background of French language had been struggling to come to terms with the change.

In October 2008, after Rwanda became a member of the East African Community, the government affirmed English to be the official language of instruction, opening Rwanda up to a world of new opportunities. The change came and member states started the process of harmonising their education curricula with English, the collective language of teaching.

The change was also an antecedent to Rwanda joining the British Commonwealth in Nov. 2009. It was also meant to help ease future Rwandan workers into the international business and finance community, where English is the most overriding language, as well as to provide access to the worldwide knowledge economy, so as to realize Rwanda's 2020 Vision.

The government, consequently, hired teachers from neighbouring countries to help teach the language, particularly in high schools.

Jean Baptiste Ndorimana, a teacher at Zaza College notes that the vigilance with which teachers learnt the English language has paid them well. The experienced middle aged man, who teaches English, said that learners were taking lesson in the language with almost no difficulties.

"At the beginning everyone with French background was frustrated. We never expected to learn the language as fast as we did. Our students as well, are doing well and we expect them to do even better than us in future," he said.

Theogen Kayinamura, another teacher, said that East African Community was offering them opportunities they never expected. "When Rwanda joined EAC we wondered what we would benefit. Most of us spoke French and never expected to compete with our counterparts in the region, who spoke exclusively English," he says. "But, the trend of events show that we shall be competitive in the region as well."

Silvestre Matata, who works with East African ministry said that the workshop was meant communicate to teachers, the performance of EAC so far. "Ours is a process," he says. "Teachers are very important in society as they represent entire society either directly or indirectly. We thus need to keep them at par with what is going in EAC. This is what we were doing."

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