The Alliance Française de Monrovia, a French Embassy learning institution, on Thursday, April 22, opened its new campus on 94 UN Drive, Mamba Point, Monrovia to help Liberians and other nationals gain fluency in the French language without the need for an interpreter.
The campus, located at the old French embassy, was revived last year with new structures, board members, and a new director. It was recently moved to Mamba Point. Although planning and construction work is still underway, training courses began in January 2021. The school is planning to start cultural activities after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The school is not a new institution,” says Fr. Maroun Zogheib, the Director of Alliance Francaise de Monrovia. “It has existed for years but was withered with various tragic events.” He said the Alliance Française is a linguistic and cultural institution that will work closely work with educational and cultural agents to add its stone to the edifice and support the country in its effort for progress.”
Classes are now available from Monday to Saturday with new sessions every month, the institution is planning to organize training for French teachers in various high schools, colleges and universities across the country.
The school is situated at the old French embassy with only one building to accommodate students. However, when the entire facility is completed, the campus will brighten up with cultural events, a media library, a Bibliobus (a sort of mobile library), a translation department, and construct a large multipurpose room to organize, cultural events, debates, conferences, round tables, exhibitions and movie nights, among others, for students to learn more about the francophone culture.
Gracing the opening, Prof. D. Ansu Sonii, Minister of Education, said it is time to address the importance of the French language in Liberia and encourage young people to take advantage of the school. “Students that we sent to Morocco and Ivory Coast have taken eight to nine months to learn the French language before commencing their schooling,” he said.
Minister Sonii said during the Liberian civil crisis, when people found themselves crossing borders in search of shelter in French-speaking countries, the French language was a barrier for them especially at those places where they could have cross easily.
“Especially when you meet someone across the border who does not understand your language, how do you communicate to that person across the border who is not in need but you, who are travelling, are in need — how do you express that need?” Minister Sonii asked.
He stressed the need to avoid repeating the civil war experience ever again. “Alliance Française de Monrovia have brought back the privilege of learning French for excellence,” he said.
Michael Roux, French ambassador to Liberia, said the school is a place to learn French, which is not only the language of France but the language of the whole world. “The cultural center will be a place of cultural exchange, emotions and debate. Education is a key factor of peace and this place will be a place will be a source of peace”.
The ambassador said the knowledge of francophone culture will bring Liberia closer to its neighbors and contribute to the opening of the country to French-speaking peoples. “This opens opportunities for Liberian youth, opportunities for studies, business, travel and work. This place will be a place of prosperity. There will also be a francophone garden to bring young people closer to nature, while teaching them French.
Fr. Maroun Zogheib, the Director of Alliance Francaise de Monrovia, said the opening of the school does not only contribute to the influence of the French language in Liberia and culture but also, and above all, it now offers it an opportunity to open up to its neighbors who are mostly French speaking countries.
“We currently have around 40 students taking lessons from Monday to Saturday and, under the instruction of Professor Sonii, we will soon receive around 40 international students to train before they join their universities in French-speaking countries.”