• Monday, May 27, 2024
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How Nigeria can leverage multilingual education to strengthen diversity

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The need to strengthen Nigeria’s diversity leveraging multilingual education cannot be overemphasised at this point as Nigerians continue to raise the bar in the quest for global education, ranking number one in the United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America (USA) international student travels.

This is also true to the fact that Nigeria is surrounded by Francophone countries to the north, east, and west.

Nigerians recently joined 77-member states of the International Organisation of La Francophonie to celebrate the Journée Internationale de la Francophonie, (the International Francophonie Day), which spotlights French Language and Francophone culture across the world.

Laurent Favier, consul general of France in Lagos, noted that almost 400 million people in over 80 countries of the world speak French, and about 60 percent of them are in Africa. According to him, Nigeria is important to French culture because over 11,000 Nigerians learn the French Language every year, with 15,000 French teachers.

“Our curriculum is 100 percent French curriculum, which means what students are learning is exactly the same as the curriculum that is in French and at the end of the high school they pass French exams.

“Our Nigerian students are fluent enough in French to pass the same exams as French native speakers,” Sylvain Malrieu, principal, Lycée Français Pasteur de Lagos (LFPL), said.

According to Malrieu, since French will soon become a global language, it was imperative for non-French native speakers to take advantage of the school on the back of its multilingual advantage it offers to Nigerian learners and the capacity it holds to strengthen the country’s diversity.

“In addition to those two languages, students are offered German, Spanish, Arabic and Latin as options in secondary school. They are taught by a team of qualified, experienced and dedicated professionals who are committed to helping your children reach their full potential.”

Malrieu further said that LFPL, also known as the French School of Lagos, has been in Nigeria for the past 40 years and as part of deepening the learning outcome of its students, the school renovated and installed state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) laboratories to equip students with the right educational resources as obtained in French Schools in France.

According to him, with students drawn from 30 nationalities across the world, an internationally recognised European curriculum, a multilingual community of students and teachers with periodic exchange with schools from neighbouring countries, LFPL is deepening the multilingual narrative in Nigeria.

Taking journalists on a tour of the newly built facilities during the school’s Open Day, Malrieu said that the school operates the same curriculum as obtained in France and delivers world class education.

According to him, the school runs a 100 percent French curriculum and that subjects are taught in French language except for dedicated hours of English and art classes per week.

With over 30 nationalities and 530 students schooling with LFPL he explained that the school which is supported by the French Government is powered with solar to provide 24 hours electricity.

Malrieu reiterated that the French School of Lagos is committed to providing a global standard in teaching, and boost of digital and STEM laboratories, sporting and special needs programmes and library for the total wellbeing of every student.

He also disclosed that the school receives £1 million annually from the French government as subsidies to help the school finance teacher’s training for French curriculum and security.

According to him, it helps to close the gaps in the teaching method allowing students to get the same learning experience as is obtainable in France.

He disclosed that the initial plan of the school was to admit expatriated French people and offer their children the same programmes that are applicable in French.

“This school works in line with all the 600 French schools around the world for expatriate people. Of course, some Nigerian families see this as an opportunity to have their kids get the education within Nigeria being surrounded by French speaking countries and the interconnectedness of the world,” he said.

Funke Bowoto, vice-principal, said that French schools are like web around the world with over 600 across the globe. According to her, the beauty of learning multiple languages is unparalleled especially in a fast-changing world.

She said further that students also learn English to help develop their multilingual capacity, and that in middle school it is mandatory for students to choose between Spanish, German and Latin. According to her, the languages are optional courses but a good student can do all of that.

“The world is very interesting for kids to speak French. Of course, you are well aware that maybe before the end of the century French will be the first language of the world. Thanks to Africa, because education is compulsory to all French citizens; that is why you have French Schools abroad to cater for all the French nationals wherever they are in the world,” Bowoto said.

Founded in 1958, Lycée Français Pasteur de Lagos (LFLP) also known as French school, Lagos. Through its 66 years of existence, the school has evolved from just a French school operating the France educational model for children of French expatriates into a global hub accepting international students from around the world resident in Nigeria and building a rich community of diverse cultures.

According to Bowoto, LFLP operates a flexible approach to teaching that exposes students to a wide array of extracurricular activities. According to her, students are admitted from kindergarten to high school after which they have the opportunity to proceed with their studies in any country of their choice.

She disclosed that through this process, students are guided into understanding their individual gifts and talents to express their most authentic self. According to her, this teaching method also allows students to cultivate the skill of independent thinking from cradle to high school, which they would utilise throughout their life.