Rwanda ditches French

It looks like Rwandan school children will soon be trading their copies of Le Petit Prince for Paddington Bear. Rwandan education officials announced this week that French will no longer be the first language of education -- all lessons will be in English by 2011.

It would seem that this latest shedding of French culture by Rwandan officials comes too close on the heels of last summer's controversial accusations to be taken as anything but an insult by France. It was just last August that an independent commission set up by the Rwandan government implicated 33 French military and political leaders in the 1994 genocide and called for them to stand trial. Rwanda's current government, moreover, is led by former rebels who fought and ousted what they saw as French proxies.

Rwandan officials, however, were quick to add that this latest move is not a spiteful jab at France. Vincent Karega, Rwanda's trade and industry minister, said the motive was purely economic: "English has emerged as a backbone for growth and development not only in the region but around the globe." In addition to the English-speaking investors now coming to Rwanda, the country also relies on trade with places where deals are made in English, like East Africa.

Rwanda may be onto something here: The country's state minister for education has already noted that English textbooks are much, much cheaper than the French alternative.

Photo: JOSE CENDON/AFP/Getty Images


This Week in China

Top Story

At least three kidnapped Chinese oil workers were killed in the South Kordofan region of Sudan on Tuesday. An unidentified group had been holding nine workers of the China National Petroleum Corporation hostage since Oct. 18. The killings apparently took place after a helicopter flying overhead spooked the kidnappers. Chinese and Sudanese officials are now searching for the other hostages.

The Sudanese government has blamed rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which has fought with government forces in neighboring Darfur for six years, for the violence. While JEM has previously accused China of abetting government-sponsored brutality through oil investments, the group has denied responsibility for the killings.

China has called the incident an "inhumane terrorist deed." However, it seems unlikely the country will use its petroleum agreements to pressure the Sudanese government into ending the Darfur conflict, as many international diplomats have hoped, unless such incidents become commonplace and severely disrupt production.

General News

A new source of concern has emerged for uneasy Chinese consumers as Hong Kong authorities discover excessive amounts of melamine in mainland eggs.

China opened the 6th National Farmers' Games in Fujian province on Sunday. Events include many familiar sports but also tire-pushing, food-carrying, kite-flying, and tug-of-war.


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao spoke at the China-Russia Economic and Trade Summit in Moscow Tuesday, praising the strength of economic ties between the two countries.

The government ageed to another round of talks with the personal representatives of the Dalai Lama. However, the Dalai Lama admitted that he has given up on trying to convince Beijing to grant Tibet more autonomy.

Business & Economy

The People's Bank of China cut the benchmark interest rate by 27 basis points to 6.66 percent. This marks the third time China has cut rates in the past six weeks.

Net income at PetroChina, Asia's largest oil producer, jumped 30 percent in the third quarter on record oil prices. Meanwhile, Sinopec, Asia's largest oil refiner, suffered a 39 percent drop in profits. The Chinese government's caps on consumer fuel prices prevented the company from offsetting higher oil costs.

China signed a much anticipated oil pipeline deal with Russia on Tuesday. The deal grants China access to Russian oil in exchange for sizeable loans to Russian energy firms.

Science & Environment

Authorities have discovered a series of iron and gold ore deposits in eastern China that may be worth more than 20 billion RMB ($2.92 billion). 

Workers brought the final power-generation turbine online at the Three Gorges Dam, edging the project towards completion a year ahead of schedule.

China Moment

It's the 21st century. Who better to look over your shoulder than your fellow netizens? Thomas Crampton reports on China's freelance Internet censors.

Photo: Isam Al-Haj/AFP/Getty Images