In 2020, the member states of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Niamey Convention.
This year will be marked by numerous cultural events as during the Francophonie Week, which will be held in Jakarta from March 16 to 21, before the OIF’s 18th summit in Tunis in December 2020.
Conceived by its founders as a vector of independence and the cement of a community of shared values, the OIF has brought together 88 member countries and a community of 300 million speakers. French is today the fifth most spoken language in the world and the second most taught language, with more than 132 million learners.
Alongside English, it is the only language spoken on all continents. Fifty years after its creation, while multilateralism is under attack, this organization remains important.
Likewise, Indonesia belongs to one of the largest linguistic communities, with today 267 million speakers on its territory and even more with the Malaysian archipelago.
However, our linguistic communities hardly know each other and often need another language to communicate. This drives us apart as much as it impoverishes us. Francophonie is a space for creation and the French language a living being that must know how to reinvent itself, enriching itself by its encounter with new imaginations, new constructions, new meanings.
Indonesia also knows the space that the knowledge of the French language, which is taught in 420 high schools and 15 public universities, opens up.
Through a single language, Francophonie provides access to a huge variety of cultural works from different continents, cultures and histories. It is a tool that gives access to some of the best universities, libraries or research centers.
Speaking French means above all integrating a web of educational, cultural, entrepreneurial and cooperation networks which in 2050 will unite a community of 700 million speakers.
French is finally the language of a dynamic French-speaking youth, who shares common values and will have to formulate coordinated responses to the threats that weigh on our common goods, such as the environment, public health and human rights.
Francophonie is a force in globalization and multilingualism the pledge of the richness of our debates. We encourage the learning of French in Indonesian schools as is the case in 420 of them and multiply bilingual class projects like Labschool Cibubur, which will allow Indonesian high school students to reach a B2 level at the end of secondary school and will open them the doors of higher education in French-speaking countries.
Let’s support the training of the 500 teachers who run these classes, support exchanges between our universities, promote translations of our works and build new French-speaking networks in Asia.
Alongside the traditional vectors of Francophonie, such as the TV5Monde television network and the networks affiliated with the OIF, new means of disseminating French and its cultural works must be mobilized, such as the online courses launched by the French Institute of Indonesia, French-speaking podcasts and social networks or the French-speaking digital platform TV5Monde Plus.
It is in particular through these initiatives launched by the communities established in our countries and our alumni networks that each of us can help support the French-speaking world in Indonesia.
The writer is French ambassador to Indonesia. The article was also signed by ambassadors to Indonesia from Austria, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Morocco, Mozambique, Romania, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uruguay and European Union and EU ambassador to ASEAN.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.