-Liberia’s Education Minister Sonii
Liberia’s Minister of Education, Professor D. Ansu Sonii, describes the teaching profession as a calling, rather than a job, stressing that teaching goes beyond simply doing a job. “The short coming of teaching here [is that] somehow people believe that teaching is a job. I have categorized teaching to be a calling. Teaching goes beyond doing a job.
It is because of teaching the entire civilization has transitioned from yesterday to today…” Minister Sonii says. The Minister spoke at the launch of the newly refurbished French institute, Alliance Française Center on 94 UN Drive, Mamba Point in Monrovia, Thursday, April 22, 2021.
He recalls experience from the Liberian Civil War when Liberians sought refuge in neighboring countries, especially French-speaking countries, including Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal, but they faced language barrier.
Stressing the importance of the French language, Minister Sonii notes that many Liberians during the civil war suffered language barrier “Because places they could have crossed easily, they couldn’t. Especially, when you meet someone across the border, who does not understand your language; how do you communicate? That person across the border is not in need; it is you who are travelling in need. How do you express that need? There was a barrier.”
He underscores the need for Liberians to take the French language serious, but regrets lack of professionally trained French teachers in Liberia, noting that majority of the French teachers in schools are those who were compelled to speak French during the crises and are now teaching without a formal training.
He wonders now that the crises are over, how Liberia would survive in the midst of nations “who understand what we say but we don’t understand what they say?”
Minister Sonii says this why he is optimistic about the reopening of the Alliance Française institute to help train French teachers for Liberia, pointing that President George Weah “speaks well the French language and understands what he (Weah) says, because some people speak but they do not understand what they say.”
Earlier, the newly accredited French Ambassador in Monrovia, Michael Roux, said activities of the Alliance Française Center will provide new opportunities for Liberian youth to study, travel, do business and work abroad in French-speaking countries.
Amb. Michael Roux says the Alliance Française will help provide intensive French training courses for Liberian students who are interested in studying in French-speaking countries before they leave Liberia, adding that the Government of France through the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) has sent forty (40) Liberian students to the Houphouet Boigny Polytechnic Institute in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, on scholarship for studies in various fields, but those students were forced to do intensive French courses for six to 12 months before starting their actual studies.
He reveals that negotiations are currently ongoing to offer French training courses for the Armed Forces of Liberia, as Liberian troops are now involved in peacekeeping missions around the world, including the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and others are assigned at the various borders with Guinea and la Cote d’Ivoire, two neighboring French-speaking countries.
By Valery Guhena–Editing by Jonathan Browne