Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia Chooses Franco-phone Path

Cambodia Chooses Franco-phone Path

Cambodia Chooses Franco-phone Path

Cambodia's provisional government is seeking full membership to the Association of

French Speaking Countries, which is preparing to hold its annual summit in Mauritius.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen, co-chairmen of Cambodia's interim administration,

wrote a letter on July 28 to Head of State Prince Norodom Sihanouk, asking for his

advice.

"The provisional government sees the proposal for full membership to the Association

of French Speaking Countries as important and useful for our country at this moment,"

the letter said.

It also said that Prince Ranariddh would soon lead a delegation to attend the Francophone

summit.

Following independence in 1954, the French language continued to be used in Sihanouk's

government institutions, especially in the field of education, and as a means to

link Cambodia with the international community. But the practice of French was banned

during the Khmer Rouge years, and was suppressed in the wake of the Vietnamese invasion

in 1979.

Fighting against what they termed imperialistic cultural expansion, pro-Vietnamese

hard-liners installed Vietnamese and Russian languages into the teaching programs

at both school and university levels.

However, private English classes, which were at first branded pro-imperialist and

outlawed, soon won broad popularity among Cambodian youth, compared to the small

percentage who sought to study French.

Refusing to give his full name, Mr. Ang, a teacher at the Institute of Economics,

said the current wrangling over which language should be used in the classroom was

confusing students. He said struggles for the use of French or English were currently

underway in the Economics, Law and Agricultural schools.

"It is not easy to make our youth switch from the current trend of learning

English to learning French. France seems to be as proud as the Soviets and Vietnamese

were. It is as if it is trying to reclaim the influence they used to have before,"

he said.

He agreed that in accordance with tradition Cambodia should use French as a second

language for communicating with the rest of the world, but noted that because of

the geographical and economic orientation of Cambodia, English was more necessary

and obviously practical.

"The long-term existence of the French language depends on a factor which is

France's economic influence (in Cambodia)," said Khieu Kanharith, minister of

information.

He noted that of the Cambodian youth presently studying foreign languages, 80 percent

know English better than French, and the same percentage exists among those ministers

and other officials of the former SOC (State of Cambodia) government who went through

foreign language training courses."Khmers are pragmatic. They learn English

so they can use it to find a job," he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release