The International Organisation of Francophonie (OIF) has launched a French teaching program for Rwanda Defence Force troops that will be deployed for peacekeeping missions in French speaking countries.
The programme was launched this May 18, 2022 by the OIF Secretary General, Louise Mushikiwabo who is in the country to preside over the event and also address military leaders on the issue of security, democracy in Africa at the ongoing National Security Symposium 2022.
The event, held at the Rwanda Military Academy Gako, was also attended by Military leaders including Colonel Jean Chrysostome Ngendahimana, the RDF Chief Operations and Training (J3) and Colonel Franco Rutagengwa, the Deputy Commander of Rwanda Military Academy.
Mushikiwabo said the program aims at providing French speaking communication skills to Rwandan peacekeepers that are sent for peacekeeping missions specifically in French speaking countries where they need to communicate and exchange with the local population.
The forces serving in these countries have normally had field operation training and instructions conducted in English.
For starters, the course will be attended by 50 RDF personnel that are receiving their pre-deployment course at Rwanda Military Academy in Gako before they are deployed to the Central African Republic in the next four months.
The course book which will be used include the teaching and learners guide book “En Avant, – (meaning Moving Forward), which contains a French military methodology.
Colonel Jean Chrysostome Ngendahimana, the RDF Chief Operations and Training (J3), said that the French language training support from OIF will be of an added value to Rwandan forces in the mission and outreach programmes.
After the 1994 genocide against Tutsi when peacekeepers abandoned Rwanda to an eminent genocide, the country has engaged its forces in peacekeeping operations in Africa and beyond to proving that peace can be restored in areas condemned to unending conflict, thus creating a continental legacy which confirms that Africa indeed can solve her own problems.
Under the United Nations peacekeeping operations, Rwanda has deployed army and police forces in South Sudan, Mali, Haiti, and Central African Republic (CAR) among other areas.
Of the 95,000 civilian, police and military personnel currently deployed around the world (as of 2020 UN data), Rwanda currently has 6,546 peacekeepers.
The shift to training RDF forces in French comes at a time when Rwanda and France have resurrected their bilateral relations with the latter committing to promoting the French language in Rwanda among other African countries.
In February, Rwanda and the French Development Agency (AFD) signed a €5Million grant agreement aimed at reinforcing the teaching and learning of the French language, a move which follows an improved relationship between Rwanda and France following the visit of President Emmanuel Macron to Rwanda in May 2021.
Also in April, under the “mobility project” the OIF sent to Rwanda the second batch of forty-five French volunteer teachers from 11 French-speaking countries in a bid to enhance French language teaching in local schools.
Rwanda remains a multilingual country with English, French, Kiswahili, and Kinyarwanda as its official languages.