French language would be part of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) as from 2014 for interested candidates, the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, said on Thursday in Abuja.
Minister Rufa’i said this at a farewell reception held in honour of the French Language Project Manager, Mr Jean-Phillipe Roy.
She said that being multi-lingual in the 21st Century was essential as it helps individuals to operate more effectively in the international community.
"For Nigeria, the study of French language is quite a key, considering the fact that our neighbouring countries are French-speaking. Apart from the English language, French language is one of the major international languages," she said.
She said Roy came to Nigeria in 2009 under the 2nd Bilateral Agreement between Nigeria and France.
The minister noted that he has worked hard to ensure that various components of the project received due attention.
Rufa’I lauded his contributions to the reform of the UTME for 2014 in addition to the scholarships awarded to 16 teachers of French language to study in France for one month.
She said the project manager’s contributions, included supply of books to schools, award of Masters Degree in French as a Foreign Language and supply of DVD and CD players to the project office, among others.
The minister lauded the support of the French government to the Nigerian French Language Village, Badagry, Lagos, the Regional Network of French Language centres in Africa.
She also commended the association of French Language Teachers, and noted the proposed handing over of the project vehicle to the ministry for the monitoring of the teaching and learning of the lanaguage.
"Nigeria and France have come a long way in their relationship. It is a relationship built on mutual respect, cooperation and interest.
"I wish to assure you that the ministry will continue to be committed to the teaching and learning of French language in Nigeria and sustenance of the cordial relationship," she said.
She called on the French government to introduce similar programmes to complement, sustain and consolidate the achievements made so far.
Responding, Roy lauded the collaboration between the Federal government and the French Government.
"Since I have been here, you have shown a lot of interest in what we have been trying to do in terms of decision-making in critical issues and, with your help, we have been able to keep the project on the right track," he said. "The French government has so far organised 160 training sessions in various parts of the country, adding that 4,290 people participated in the programme."