French studies were introduced into the then Faculty of Arts in 1962, as a Unit within a Department of English and Modern European Languages, with a Unit Head to take care of French, under the ferule of the Head of the large Department. As time wore on, and with the increase in students’ numerical strength in French, it was deemed necessary to create a Department of French, very distinct from the former large Department, which had become, simply, the Department of English. This was in 1986. The newly created Department of French had its own Head of Department, with its own curriculum, different from what it had been previously. And as a Department, it mounted two (2) syllabuses, namely Syllabus A and Syllabus B, both of which ended in the BA (Honours) in French. Syllabus A was for those who had Higher School Certificate (HSC) or GCE, Advanced Level, while Syllabus B took in candidates who had no HSC/GCE, A/L. These two syllabuses differed only in the beginning, but ended finally in the same BA Hons.
Later, more HSC/A/L holders came in, and it was found necessary to harmonize and the two syllabuses merged into one syllabus for BA Hons. French Degree. This was around 1977, with the syllabus providing for only one Degree, until 1996. From then onwards, a syllabus was put in place for BA Education/BED students who came from Faculty of Education, up to 1990, when the Education students stopped taking courses in the Department of French. This left the Department alone, without syllabus for Departments outside the Faculty of Arts. Our curriculum was then providing courses for the students of the Department of French until 1996, when the curriculum was reviewed, and tentacles were thrown out to other Faculties and disciplines, through the creation of new modules.
With the modules created in 1996/97, the Department of French now operates syllabus for BA (Hons) French; French for International Studies, French for Social Sciences, and French for Mass Communications, all of which are being taught effectively. A number of other modules were also created, but shortage of teaching staff does not make it possible for the future.
The Department of French has grown in leaps and bounds. From its modest beginning in 1968, the Department has grown rapidly to occupy an enviable place amongst Departments of Foreign languages in Nigerian Universities. In 1996, following the adoption of French as Nigeria’s second foreign language by the Federal Government, the Committee in charge of the implementation named the Department as one of the six Pilot Departments in Nigeria for executing the Government’s new policy.
Following this new status, the Department, with the support of the Embassy of France in Nigeria, introduced the Preliminary French programme which is now serving as model for many other Foreign language Departments in the country. Indeed, now, the Federal Council on Education, working in collaboration with the Embassy of France in Nigeria, are about to adopt the Preliminary French programme as the main artery for the admission of students of French to Nigerian universities. The Department of French continues to grow, always exploring ways of producing the high level manpower capable of meeting the challenges of the modern world.
The Mission of the Department of French is to adequately equip graduates linguistically with the necessary intellectual disposition for self and social development.
In identifying with the Vision of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, of creating a University of Excellence, the Department of French envisages achieving the overall needs of training students and conducting researches towards the capacity development in response to the exigencies of globalization.
The B.A Honours Programme in French is committed to the broad philosophy of Ahmadu Bello University and of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – belonging fully to the World Community, and participating actively and effectively in the on-going dialogue for Nations. This obviously, involves the acquisition, mastery and popularization of major linguistic media, instruments of decision-making and exchange on the International scene, of immediate relevance to Nigeria in this respect is French.