The director of the country’s only French language institute, Alliance Française, said the institute is in a financial squeeze to the extent that, if nothing is done by the government, the school will “definitely close down”, says director Idrissa Kaba.
“This institute will surely close down because of lack of budgetary support from the Liberian Government since the 2015 academic year was released,” he alarmed.
According to Mr. Kaba, his administration has dialogued with some members of the National Legislature and also officials from the Ministry of Education seeking for budgetary allotment, but to the process is yet to come through.
Mr. Kaba explained that since 1982, Alliance Française has been fully supported by the Government of the Republic of France, through its Embassy in Monrovia, to teach Liberians the best way to read, write and speak the French Language and understand the culture.
He said financial support from the French government intended to operate the institution came to an abrupt end in 2013 when the French Embassy made the pronouncement; a situation, which the director said, has put the institute into financial crisis, thereby, undermining its continuous teaching Liberians the French Language.
For example, Mr. Kaba said the Government of France was underwriting the rental fees for the building housing the institute annually as well as paying the instructors, “just to motivate them to focus on teaching Liberians to communicate in the French Language at every level of their professional life.
Mr. Kaba disclosed that since the Government of Liberia stopped its financial assistance during the height of the 14 years, the institute then decided to close down.
According to him, it was the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSORP) that intervened and paid the rent for the building housing its operation for two years, which will come to an end by this year. However, the Ebola crisis interrupted the 2014 academic year, resulting in a loss of instructional time under the rental agreement, without the students gaining any benefit from the building as schools throughout the country were closed.
It is not clear whether the school could invoke force majeure to make up for lost time since the closure of the institution during 2014 was beyond their control. That is an issue the school will have to seek legal advice about.
Mr. Kaba said more Liberians realized the importance of speaking the French Language during the height of the country’s 14 years civil crisis when many of them sought refuge in neighboring French-speaking countries, where they experienced the bitterness of the language barrier.
He pointed out that the French Language is the world’s second internationally recognized language and, with Liberia bordering two francophone countries, he called on the government to see the reason and allot a significant budget to the French Institute so as to allow Liberians learn and equip themselves with the French Language.
Liberians, he said should be eager now to learn the French Language in school with all seriousness to increase the capability of speaking fluent French.
Director Kaba observed that for Liberia to play a major role in the sub-region integration of citizens, they should remember that the French Language has a vital part to enhance the process.
He disclosed that Alliance Française of Monrovia has students from the diverse institutions of government including deputy ministers, directors, legislators and other officials from government ministries and agencies who are learning French in Monrovia.
He said to ensure that French Language become one of the essential subjects in Liberian schools; it should be introduced in the West African Examination to motivate Liberian students to actually learn the language, noting that the World has become a global village, but language can set that pace apart.
Director Kaba emphasized that the institution has been playing pivotal role to interpret and translate francophone documents for government,
but yet, there is no budgetary allotment for the institute in the national budget to the detriment of the students.
He then appealed to authorities at the Ministry of Education and members of the National Legislature to intervene to bring the situation to an end where the budget will be allotted for the program.