Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement which has been very well delivered.
Mr Speaker, La Francophonie, which is also known as the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) is a global organisation of some 88 States, of which 27 have observer status.
Ghana was granted observer status to La Francophonie in 2016, and just last year, our current President, H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, pushed for full membership and it was granted. Ghana was then admitted into full membership of La Francophonie.
Mr Speaker, the significance of this bloc in international relations cannot be downplayed. As the Hon Member
who made the Statement said, Ghana finds itself in a very unique situation, where we are an Anglophone nation surrounded by Francophone neighbours: Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.
So it goes without saying that the French language is a very important one, especially if we are to achieve the objectives of regional integration. If the dreams of our founding fathers to have a united Africa, beginning from the regional blocs, and for that matter, ECOWAS, is to be achieved, then language, which remains a barrier, has to be looked into.
Mr Speaker, that is why it is worth highlighting that a few weeks ago, at a La Francophonie event, our Foreign Minister, Hon Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (Hon Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration) indicated that her Ministry is submitting proposals to the Ministry of Education to make French the second official language in Ghana.
Mr Speaker, that proposal is worth looking into, and I believe that it is a very useful suggestion but I would go beyond just focusing on French, and say that we should encourage multilingualism.
I have made a Statement on the Floor of this House before, urging our young students to embrace multilingualism. It is one of the reasons Ghanaians normally lose out when it comes to international positions in reputable global organisations.
Mr Speaker, French language is the sixth most spoken language in the world. The first is Mandarin, where we have over a billion people in this world who speak it. The English language comes second, followed by Hindi, Spanish, and Arabic in terms of the number of people who speak these international languages.
Mr Speaker, so we should encourage multilingualism; not only French language but also other international languages. I am glad that our universities, especially the University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), University of Cape Coast (UCC) are taking a very open and broad view of international languages.
We know the support the Confucius Centre is extending to our universities to teach Mandarin and promote it in our higher institutions of learning. We need to encourage that.
Mr Speaker, as we talk about international languages, let us not forget that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declared this year as the year of the mother tongue because as we promote international languages, experts say that mother tongue is also being affected.
The younger generation is losing out. We meet many Ghanaians these days who cannot speak local
languages and some parents think that it is something to be applauded. O me ba yi dee, nnka Twi o! To wit, “My child does not speak Twi”; my child speaks no vernacular; no Ewe, Guan, Ga or Hausa.
We must encourage multilingualism and adopt policies that would promote the study of the mother tongue.
Mr Speaker, away from the language aspect of this Statement, our full membership of La Francophonie would deepen our bond with our brothers and sisters, which is historic. We need to bear in mind that because of the Berlin Conference that led to the division of Africa among colonial blocs, we now have a situation where as one people, and as Africans, because of this artificial demarcations, we have some who belong to the Francophone and Anglophone blocs and others who belong to the Spanish blocs.
Mr Speaker, if we resolve that our foreign policy approach would be to boldly assume membership of all of these organisations and bring down the artificial barriers of division, it would lead to greater understanding amongst our people.
It would also lead to the removal of prejudices, so that we would see one another as one people and it would go a long way to deepen peace and stability in the region and in the world.
Mr Speaker, it would also advance trade because we all know that Africans do not trade among