Togo is one of the smallest countries in West Africa boarded by Ghana to the west, Benin to the East and Burkina to the south. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea where its capital LOMÉ is located. It is a francophone country with an approximate of 7.9 million population. Their motto is “Travail, Liberté et Patrie” which means “work, liberty and homeland “. Togo is popular in Africa and the world at large for their multistoried Grand marché (Big market) bazaar. Aside from this, it has the serene and the conducive environment for language learning and acquisition of linguistics conversational ability.
Centre international de recherche et d’étude langue (CIREL), Village du Benin (VB), is a school under the Université de Lomé which has been internationally recognised as one of the best language schools in West Africa. Since its establishment in 1968, it has on usual basis taught and trained people from 36 countries and more to master some foreign languages like French and English and other interesting programmes like tourism etc. Ghana and Nigeria are not exempted from the 36 and still counting countries. Annually, CIREL receives and train students from about 14 Universities in Nigeria. Some of these universities are, University of Nigeria(UNN), University of Benin(UNIBEN), University of Lagos state (UNILAG), Imo State University(IMSU), Nnamdi Azikwe University(UNIZIK), Kaduna State University(KASU), Delta State University, Ahmadu Bello University, Ekiti State University(EKSU), University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) etc and other teacher training colleges.
In Ghana, University of Cape Coast(UCC) and University of Education(UEW) send their 3rd and 4th-year French students respectively to go and ameliorate their proficiency in the French language. This offer is motivated by a fully-funded scholarship programme from the Ghana scholarship secretariat. This academic year, CIREL received 210 students from the above Ghanaian universities, UCC and UEW.
As part of the initiative of probing to know the condition of Ghanaian students studying abroad amidst this COVID-19 pandemic, I decided not to leave them out.
Bertha Anne, a third-year student of the University of Cape Coast shares with us their current state and condition amidst this pandemic. “We are very safe here. Nothing bad has happened to anyone here. We have all been strictly confined in our hostel. No going out nor coming in! We’re not even allowed to go and use the campus’ Wi-Fi connection. The only place we’re permitted to go is the forecourt of the hostel and later return back to the hostel. The security is very tight here yeah! Initially, when it started where this COVID-19 had the media attention and also had our school being suspended on 20th March 2020, some of us became very scared. We felt insecure and wanted to come back home, Ghana. I think it was the best decision our authorities made to keep us here. Togo has only recorded 126 coronavirus cases with 76 recoveries and 9 death.
Yes! I have heard of the E-learning brouhaha from some colleague students in Ghana. We have not been enrolled on any e-learning or whatsoever. Nonetheless, our lecturers have given us some assignments to occupy ourselves with.
*SUPPORT FROM CIREL, VB TO FOREIGN STUDENTS*
They provided soap and the Veronica buckets at vantage points and enjoined students especially those who did not take the virus seriously to wash their hands and observe the other precautionary measures to keep us safe from contracting the virus. They have also assigned to us some health workers who routinely check upon us to see whether anyone has been showing symptoms of the virus and as well educate us on how to keep ourselves safe. Also, they have provided us with a car which sends a selected few to the market to buy our foodstuff and essential things we need per the list and money we give them. I think the authorities of CIREL, VB have done well.
This COVID-19 pandemic has retarded learning. As confined people from one country, most of us have paused the conscious effort of practising the French language which is our prime motive of being here. We mostly open and end conversations with our local dialect which is not advisable.
Most of us are using the time judiciously by upgrading our skills, learning new skills and new languages like German and Spanish. Others too busily watching their telenovelas and other TV series which the serious studies couldn’t permit them to watch. Sure! It’s necessary! Hehehe! The University of Cape Coast was the only university which was able to celebrate her SOIRÉE before the Covid-19 Pandemic. Soirée is an annual celebration observed by all the universities under CIREL. They do this to showcase the rich culture of their country and also use that medium to practise their French through numerous performances”.
Bertha Anne advised that Ghanaian students who are currently home should still make time for their books. “If nothing at all, just an hour with your books is enough for the day” she claimed.
Reported by :
EMMANUEL BARTELS ANKRAH
UNIVERSITY OF CAPE COAST
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