25 October 2016
A new school year began on October 3rd in the ABC school in Burkina Faso and students were pleased at resuming their studies. Happier still, if anything, were the 70 new arrivals who look forward to hitting the books and they know exciting times are ahead. First order of business for the students is mastering the French language. Over 70 different languages are spoken in Burkina Faso and it can be quite difficult relating messages in the classroom. In some cases the students speak 5-6 different languages. Gully Jonasdottir, one of two directors of the school, said in an interview that "the teacher has to combine everything so it must be quite difficult in the first and second grade but they manage somehow".
One of the new students, Alassane Konate, is 6 years old and he speaks a native language called Dafing. Of the 17 million residents of Burkina Faso only 135.000 speak the language which is less than 1%. The dialect is only spoken by muslims in the country.
Fewer than 15% of the population use French on a daily basis. But natives want to keep French as the language of instruction and not see their children learn a language at school that they already speak at home.