The French Embassy in Nigeria has pledged investment in sports and educational programmes to promote French language speaking in Nigeria.
The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Amb. Jérôme Pasquier, made this known on Sunday in Abuja at the Abuja Schools Competition organised by the Institut Francais, to commemorate the International Francophone Week.
The celebration is scheduled to start from March 18 to 23 with the theme: “French Language, Connecting for Action”.
Pasquier said that a lot of Nigerians love to speak the language, adding that investing in sports and educational programmes would help to achieve this goal.
The ambassador said that since Nigeria was surrounded by French speaking countries, learning French language would enable people engage more in trade and connect with neighbouring countries.
Nigerian is surrounded by French speaking countries of Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin.
“France is always happy about people learning French and we are always willing to try to help in the school and in the French Institute.
“There are a lot of places across Nigeria where people can learn French language and I hope this week, we will have more demand for the language by children and adults.”
He added that sports was a good way to connect people as it was a field that drew people together and involved a lot of interaction.
The envoy said that a total of 11,000 students studied French language in Abuja annually, adding that there was hope that the number would increase in 2019.
He urged Nigerian students wanting to study abroad to also consider going to France to enable them gain more knowledge about the use of French language.
Also speaking, Mr Benoit Billy, Linguistic Attaché at the embassy, said that the event was organised for pupils and students to promote their use of French language.
He said that this was the first time the competition was holding in Nigeria and they hoped to sustain it.
“Our aim is to bring children together as well as schools involved in teaching French then the competition comes after, but most important for us is getting the children to interact,” Billy said.
He advised schools interested in participating in the next edition of the French Week celebration to add French language to their curriculum.
The week has participants between the ages of 9 and 15 years drawn from schools around Abuja.
Activities lined up to mark the week include movie screening, talk shows in French language and live music.