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Africa

France to train 100,000 African teachers to mark World Francophone Day

media General secretary of the International Organization of La Francophonie, Abdou Diouf, speaking at the World forum of the French language in Quebec, 2012 AFP PHOTO/ROGERIO BARBOSA

France has unveiled an ambitious programme to strengthen the teaching of the French language in African schools. The plans, announced on World Francophone Day, will see thousands of new teachers trained in e-learning courses to close the gap between educational achievement and population growth.

In the next ten years, 400 million people will speak French, and by 2050, that number will go up to 700 million. Most of those people will be Africans.

Ensuring that they master the French language, was one of the major challenges discussed at this year's World Francophone Day, on Thursday 20 March.

French interior minister, Laurent Fabius, said that teaching was moving out of sink with a booming population. "A high population growth is not enough, education, particularly in Africa, also needs to be strengthened," he said.

Thirty-three countries, scattered around 5 continents, all have French as their official language. But many African nations, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Cameroon suffer from an ageing work force, which could have a negative impact on teaching standards.

Concerns that some teachers may be too old, is one of the driving forces behind the new "100,000 teachers for Africa" project, that was launched on Thursday.

The programme will provide teachers with training in social media, as well as professional courses in tourism, health and diplomacy. Over twenty schools in Africa are tipped to take part.

The French government is investing heavily in youth education as 60% of people who speak French are under the age of 30. The French language should be an "opportunity" for young kids, Laurent Fabius said. It remains the common bond between the 49 members of La Francophonie.

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