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Sunday, June 23, 2024

5 Gambian students to teach English in France

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By Tabora Bojang

The French Embassy in Banjul in partnership with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST), and the University of The Gambia (UTG) hosted an induction and orientation seminar for five students of the UTG who will be working as language assistants in schools across France.     

The partnership forms part of an exchange programme being supported by the French and Gambian governments.  

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The Language Assistant Programme offers opportunities to students from various parts of the world to teach English in France, gaining valuable teaching experience and discovering French culture and civilisation.  

The students will teach English in primary and secondary schools in the Western European country for seven months. It is the first time students from The Gambia will work as language assistants in French schools, and go on to  serve as cultural ambassadors of The Gambia.  

The induction event, held at the Alliance Francaise in Banjul Tuesday, was aimed at helping the students familiarise themselves with the French school system before their scheduled departure in late September. The event was attended by the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Professor Pierre Gomez, Charge d’e Affaires at the French Embassy in Banjul, Jean-Charles Allard, and representatives of the UTG. 

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“Today is a special day because we are writing history,” said Minister Gomez. “This excellent initiative helps to link France and The Gambia. This is definitely an important programme for our country and for the University of The Gambia (UTG). In addition, Gambian students will be able to benefit in the near future from the services of young French Teaching Assistants who will also come over to support French teachers in The Gambia. I am delighted about such a win-win partnership because it is a perfect illustration of the dialogue of languages and cultures which can only strengthen the excellent quality of the relations which unite our two countries.” 

The Minister advised the students to serve with diligence, and to remain committed and hardworking during their stay in France, but to also look to discover the cultural riches of France and its people.

Camille Fournier, the attache for Cooperation at the French Embassy in Dakar based in Banjul, thanked the higher education ministry for the partnership, which according to her will go a long way in enhancing cultural, educational exchanges and broader bilateral cooperation between Banjul and Paris. 

She explained that the students will be sent to various schools across France where they will work under  teachers assigned to them. They will also receive monthly stipends from the French Ministry of Education, Ms Camille added.

“There are two different programmes. One is to send Gambian students to France and French students to come to The Gambia and teach French to Gambian students. We envisage a long term partnership, and we are hoping it will be sustainable. The embassy will continue to promote this programme because we think it is very important and cooperation through education is very crucial,” she told The Standard.

Justine Paul Mendy, one of the language assistants, expressed appreciation for the opportunity and promised to live up to expectations.

He posited that the programme will help broaden their knowledge through exposure and create bridges between French and Gambian cultures.   

Kaddijatou Jeng, a French minor student at the UTG said: “This is exciting. I have been studying French for a while and to now have this opportunity is a dream come true for me.” 

Ms Jeng, who will be teaching in a primary school in France urged Gambians to embrace the language assistant programme as it has immense benefits at both individual and national levels.

“I remain confident and motivated to make The Gambia – the Smiling Coast of Africa – proud during my stay in France,” she said. 

The criteria for selection for the programme include a good level of French and English, and being a student of the UTG aged 19 – 35.

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