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TUK don wins award for promoting French

By James Wanzala | November 27th 2021

Technical University of Kenya (TUK) lecturer Dr Teresa Atieno Otieno. [James Wanzala, Standard]

A Technical University of Kenya (TUK) lecturer, Teresa Atieno Otieno, has been recognised by the French government for her contribution to the teaching of French in Kenya.

Dr Atieno was given the award by France Ambassador to Kenya Aline Kuster-Ménager during an event held at Alliance Française Nairobi to mark the International Day of French Teachers.

The event that was celebrated for the first time in Kenya and third time worldwide aims at honouring French teachers, bringing together the main stakeholders in the promotion of the French language, and encouraging constructive dialogue by allowing teachers to meet face-to-face.

From secondary school in the 1980s, Atieno studied French before she joined Asumbi Teachers Training College to pursue History and French.

“I taught at Nyabondo Boys High School, Kisumu Boys High then moved to France in 1994 where I joined university and graduated in 2009 with a PhD,” she said.

She said that while pursuing her PhD in France, she taught English in the country’s primary schools.

After graduation, Atieno came back to Kenya to look for a job, which did not come quickly.

“I then thought of going back to France but before traveling, I got a call from one of my college lecturers telling me the United Nations in Arusha was looking for me because I had applied for a job. I worked with the UN in Arusha as a consultant from 2010 to 2015.”

Atieno says she was hired by TUK, which meant she had two jobs. She opted to quit the UN to concentrate on teaching at the university.

At TUK, Atieno teaches French as a unit to mostly tourism and hospitality students and office administrators in the faculty of Social Sciences and Technology.

Teresa Atieno Otieno was given the award by France Ambassador to Kenya Aline Kuster-Ménager during an event held at Alliance Française, Nairobi. [James Wanzala, Standard]

She said the language currently offers many opportunities to Kenyans, including going to France to teach English and vice versa, through a language assistant programme.

“Currently, we have many French students at TUK and there is demand for teachers of French not only at our university but other institutions.”

French Embassy attaché Julie Briand said they are working closely with the ministry of Education to deepen the learning of French. Ms Briand added that there are 500 teachers of French in Kenya.

“With plans for the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is a French-speaking country, to join the East African Community, this is good news for French-speaking East Africans. Recently, Equity Bank ventured into the DRC and with our local non-governmental organisations and over 100 companies working in Kenya, this presents more opportunities for services like interpreter,” said Ms Briand.

The event saw teachers under the Kenya Association French Teachers (KATF) drawn from schools, colleges, universities and resource centres across the country attend round-table meetings and short seminars on motivation of students and pedagogical projects in line with the competency-based curriculum, among others.

Briand said that every year since 2019, they have been sending 100 Kenyan students to France to teach English for seven months for pay.

Joy Adhoch, a teacher of English and French for 30 years and currently at Pumwani Boys High School, challenged the government to invest heavily in ICT infrastructure before rolling out French in schools under CBC.

KATF President Josaphat Peter welcomed teaching of French in Grade Four under CBC but called for training of more teachers.

“There is need for colleges to initiate training of French teachers for Grade Four because most of those being trained are high school teachers who may not be able to handle the physiological needs of the junior grades. As for now, there are only 29 of us who have been trained and we need more,” he said.

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