- By Rebecca Frankel
Rebecca Frankel is senior editor, special projects at Foreign Policy. She is the author of War Dogs (forthcoming in the fall of 2014 from Palgrave), a book about canines in combat, the subject of her regular Friday column "Rebecca's War Dog of the Week," featured on The Best Defense. Before joining FP in 2008, she was managing editor of Moment Magazine, a publication founded by Elie Wiesel in 1975, where she began working in 2003. In addition to her work on war dogs, Frankel has written on a wide range of topics from the religious escapades of singer Bob Dylan to Hitler's family doctor. Her profile of author Joyce Carol Oates was published in the collection Joyce Carol Oates: Conversations in 2006. She has appeared as a commentator on ABC World News and MSNBC among others. In 2011, she was named one of 12 women in foreign policy to follow on Twitter by the Daily Muse.
It looks like Rwandan school children will soon be trading their copies of Le Petit Prince for Paddington Bear. Rwandan education officials announced this week that French will no longer be the first language of education — all lessons will be in English by 2011.
It would seem that this latest shedding of French culture by Rwandan officials comes too close on the heels of last summer’s controversial accusations to be taken as anything but an insult by France. It was just last August that an independent commission set up by the Rwandan government implicated 33 French military and political leaders in the 1994 genocide and called for them to stand trial. Rwanda’s current government, moreover, is led by former rebels who fought and ousted what they saw as French proxies.
Rwandan officials, however, were quick to add that this latest move is not a spiteful jab at France. Vincent Karega, Rwanda’s trade and industry minister, said the motive was purely economic: “English has emerged as a backbone for growth and development not only in the region but around the globe.” In addition to the English-speaking investors now coming to Rwanda, the country also relies on trade with places where deals are made in English, like East Africa.
Rwanda may be onto something here: The country’s state minister for education has already noted that English textbooks are much, much cheaper than the French alternative.
Photo: JOSE CENDON/AFP/Getty Images