Ghana is to expedite action on its transition to become a full member of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF), Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has said.
She noted that various measures had been put in place in pursuit of Ghana’s aspiration.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey announced this in a speech read on her behalf at a flag- raising ceremony to mark the 52nd Anniversary of OIF in Accra on the theme: “The Francophonie of the future.”
Ghana became an associate member of La Francophonie in 2006.
The OIF is an international organisation representing countries and regions, where French is a lingua franca or customary language, where a significant proportion of the population are francophones, or where there is a notable affiliation with French culture.
Madam Botchwey noted that for 52 years, the OIF had endeavoured to live up to its motto of “Equality, Complementarity and Solidarity.”
She said the OIF had supported the demonstration of equal rights, unity in action and emphasised the peculiar qualities of each Member State with its principles grounded in democracy, rule of law, human rights, and championing women and youth rights.
“With a strong functioning democracy, Ghana shares the values of the OIF and is proud to have joined the Organisation in 2006 as an associate member,” she said.
“Our membership has allowed us to deepen our relations with our Francophonie friends and given us insight into how to enhance people-to-people interactions with our Francophone neighbours.”
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said in the area of education, Ghana had made massive progress in strengthening the teaching of the French language.
She said following the signing of the Framework Cooperation Agreement on Teacher Mobility Project between the Ministry of Education and the OIF, Ghana received 21 experts from OIF member countries who had since been deployed to six Colleges of Education, 10 Regional Centres for Teaching of French and five bilingual schools.
She said this programme would reinforce the linguistic and other competencies of teachers in institutions mandated to provide initial and continuous training of future teachers and in-service teachers of French.
She said Ghana sought to improve the use of French by creating a Francophonie environment and facilitating access to Francophone productions and material for its populace.
The Minister said in this account, the country had established 50 bilingual schools and trained 50 bilingual teachers.
She said, in addition, seven regional libraries had been identified to be equipped with French materials.
“However, it is important to note that the Accra Central Library has been fully equipped with Francophone reading and audio-visual materials and is currently opened to the general public.”
She said for the first time, and with the support of the Embassy of France, the National Council Curriculum and Assessment within the Ministry of Education had developed textbooks for primary and JHS students.
Madam Botchwey said that initiative was further extended to the production of bilingual textbooks for Mathematics, Science and ICT students.
She said in anticipation that Ghana would soon be granted full membership status by the OIF, the country was working further to build on these projects and initiatives.
We believe that this would not only strengthen our ties with our friends but also enable us to foster economic cooperation with the Francophone family.
She recalled the various ways in which the OIF had supported young people and their aspirations through the Francophonie Young Entrepreneur Awards; the International Volunteering of the Francophonie; and the National Youth Pact.
“The OIF is an organisation that not only gives us hope but also helps us to expand our dreams and realise our common goals,” she said.
Mr Maher Kheir, the Lebanese Ambassador to Ghana/President of the Francophone Ambassadors Group, said French was a language of openness to the world, which allows one to discover new cultures.
He lauded Ghana, an Anglophone country, for being one of the few countries that were members of both the Commonwealth and the La Francophonie.