All change to English;Briefing;International

12th February 1999 at 00:00

Rwandan primary schools are to teach English instead of French, and all secondary schools and colleges are to switch the language of instruction from French to English.

The move follows a decision to make English the country's official language, as war-ravaged Rwanda seeks closer political and socio-economic ties with the Anglophone East African states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. President Pasteur Bizimungu has accused France of having supported Hutu militias responsible for the genocide of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

"Our traditional ties are with East African Community member states and not in central or west Africa," said Bizimungu at an EAC conference in Tanzania.

To integrate itself with other EAC countries, the government has plans to introduce the teaching of Kiswahili, the most widely spoken language in east Africa.

Most teachers and professionals in the civil service were killed in the massacres and, since then, Rwanda has been relying on a few expatriate personnel recruited from EAC member states.

To replace French - a legacy of its days as a Belgian colony - with English, Rwanda will have to recruit teachers from Kenya and Uganda. It has also been sending observers to an EAC joint educational party on how to harmonise assessment of exams and raise standards.

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