The French-Kuwaiti Association of Francophonie, in cooperation with the French Institute in Kuwait, held a Ramadan Ghabga, attended by the French Ambassador H.E. Claire Le Flecher and the Assistant Undersecretary for Public Education Osama Al-Sultan, along with a large number of Kuwaiti academics, professors and graduates who speak the French language, in addition to a delegation from Kuwaiti Students Union in France.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Ghabga, Dr. Ali Hajji, head of the Kuwaiti Association of Francophonie, which includes 70 members, said, “We as a Kuwaiti public benefit association have several goals, the first of which is that we, as a group of Kuwaitis, have gathered to develop the French language and Francophone culture in Kuwait. Though there are many places In Kuwait for learning the French language, including in Kuwait University and at public high schools, and there is a strong and permanent work in this regard from the Ministry of Education through general guidance, we feel that is not enough.
He explained that members of the association, being among the first graduates from universities in France, try to use their experiences to provide service to young graduates in Kuwait who face several problems. He added, “Language is not only speech and expression, there is also a culture attached to it, and this is the problem we have in Kuwait. Teaching language alone is not enough, we must also learn the culture behind the language, which we can only do by interacting more with other Francophone countries and people.
“Through our endeavor to spread the French language in Kuwait and the culture of Francophonie, and through our support for the Francophone embassies to spread the Francophone culture in Kuwait, I hope that Kuwait will join the Francophone Organization, with the help of the Ministry of Education and with the help of His Highness Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed, Honorary President of the Francophonie Organization in Kuwait.”
For his part, the Counselor for Cooperation and Cultural Action at the French Embassy and Director of the French Institute in Kuwait, Benoit Catala, expressed his happiness in organizing the Ghabga, “because it is an occasion to meet Kuwaitis who speak French, and to exchange cultural information between our two countries.”
He pointed out that the cultural cooperation between France and Kuwait dates back to 1966 when the teaching of French in Kuwait public schools was included in the curriculum for the last two academic years. In the past two years, the French language has been included in several stages of education, and a memorandum was signed two weeks ago to increase the teaching of the French language in public schools, and we are extremely pleased to have a representative of the ministry of education in our Ghabga today.”
In response to a question, Mr. Katala said, “The number of students studying French in public schools is about 30,000, and at the French School we have about 1,500 students, and at the French Institute, we have about 200 students in each course, in addition to that 550 Kuwaiti teachers of French in public schools and 250 teachers in private schools.” He added that “there are a large number of law students at Kuwait University who study law, and they are sent to France to learn the language there.”
He went on to note that “French is the third largest language spoken in Kuwait, the second in the diplomatic field, and it ranks fourth in the world today, and Kuwait has requested to join the Francophone Organization nearly two years ago, and work is underway to achieve that.” He explained that “the legal system in Kuwait depends to a large extent on the Egyptian system, which in turn depends on the French system, and when we look at the constitution of our two countries, we will see that they are very similar, regardless of some local laws.”