The Alliance Française is an educational organization with a nonprofit cultural goal. Since 1883, the worldwide network has exposed several thousands of students from different origins to French civilization and language. The Alliance Française has created an identity of its own and has thus been able to exist in 138 countries, with over a thousand local committees each endowed with a special and unique quality. This long-lasting experience and outstanding vitality are the result of tight links woven between the citizens and patrons in the various countries and the French State. The Alliance Française is one and manifold at the same time and epitomizes a universal and evolutionary France.
In India alone, there are 15 Alliances Françaises in all the important cities under the aegis of the Délégation Générale de l’Alliance française de Paris en Inde which in turn reports to the parent body, Alliance Française de Paris.
The Alliance Française and Francophonie
Today, there are over 150 million French-speaking people on 5 continents – Europe, Asia, America and Oceania – among which 7 million in Quebec, Canada. French is one of the 6 official languages of the UN and one of its 2 working languages. The headquarters of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is located in Paris. Since 1986, there have been 7 Francophone summits, welcoming over 45 countries from all around the world. The summit of Heads of State and Government having the French language in common, held in Hanoi (Vietnam) in November 1987, endorsed the Francophone community’s political scope with the appointment of a Secretary General, a political spokesman for the community and coordinator of its economic and linguistic cooperation programs. This is the proof that France wants to do more than simply expand the use of the French language in the world; its ambition is to make the French-speaking community a true forum for cooperation that is not only linguistic and cultural but also economic and political.
Since knowledge of the language is instrumental in understanding French culture, the Alliance française’s primary focus is to teach French. But if it is a school for learning French, it also functions as a cultural center and social forum. The student body includes members of business, civic and educational communities as well as retirees and students from high school and college, which makes the exchange all the more rich.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the instrument by which the best artists and performers in the world of music, dance, theatre, literature etc are able to tour the different Alliances françaises. While each one functions independently, the programs are held in collaboration with the Embassy of France and the Délégation Française de l’Alliance française de Paris in Delhi. These events relative to the French or French-speaking – art exhibits, lectures, film and theatre festivals – are open to our members as well as to the public and thus serve as a vehicle for cultural dialogue. Indeed, the tradition of reciprocal contact between French and foreign cultures has always been very strong.