Delegates from the French Embassy in South Africa, including the ambassador of France to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud, gathered at the Humanities Faculty, University of Pretoria (UP) recently to discuss cooperation in the field of science, education and culture.
Part of the meeting was to review and redefine France’s priorities for the coming years, which include the implementation of a strategy of cooperation between France and South Africa. Annually, the Department of Cooperation and Cultural Affairs of the French Embassy organises a French Cooperation and Cultural network meeting with all members of the French services. The 40 participants included directors, attachés project managers and trainees.
According to Mr Farnaud, “The University of Pretoria is one of the key partners of the French Embassy and the relationship dates way back. Therefore, it is significant for us to hold this meeting at UP because one of the reasons is to push the cooperation between the two institutions further. We also appreciate that UP has a French department which is one of the best in the country and we want to strengthen our relations even further, because we have a number of French students coming to UP as exchange students to learn about the culture and everything that South Africa has to offer,” he said.
Recently, UP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the College de France. In the context of this MOU, strong collaboration is being established between the Department of Ancient and Modern Languages and Cultures and the Faculty of Theology and Religion of UP. Thus far, the French Embassy is providing UP with the services of a postgraduate student who is undertaking her internship jointly at the embassy and in the Department of Ancient and Modern European Languages and Cultures Department.
UP also has excellent links with CIRAD, the French Research Centre focused on agricultural and development issues. UP students have also studied at Sciences Po (the Paris Institute of Political Studies).
Prof. Vasu Reddy, UP’s Dean of the Faculty of Humanities said the faculty is interested in formalising some links with Campus France (a national agency for the promotion of French higher education) in South Africa. Campus France will be helpful to assist in postgraduate support to students, also by way of sourcing material in French.
“Forging strategic opportunities with the academic project between France and UP in the advancement of science and culture presents innumerable opportunities beyond the French language. There are also huge prospects for connections with francophone African countries for teaching, learning, cultural and scientific collaborations,” said Professor Reddy.
The Department of Ancient and Modern Languages and Cultures in the Faculty of Humanities will launch the Worldwide Survey of the French Language on 4 April, 16H00 at the Future Africa Campus.