Ugandan gov’t to introduce compulsory Swahili teaching in schools

Ugandan gov't to introduce compulsory Swahili teaching in schools
Maia Campbell, Lower School Reading Specialist. COURTESY PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Government is considering introducing compulsory Swahili lessons in primary school and ordinary level across the country. The Gender State Minister, Peace Mutuuzo disclosed this while addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Center earlier today.

According to Mutuuzo, this is one of the issues that the Kiswahili Council whose establishment cabinet passed recently will work on when it comes into force. She explains that schools have been reluctant to teach Swahili because it is optional.

Mutuuzo however, says that when the Kiswahili council is operationalized in two months as anticipated, it will work on making Swahili teaching compulsory in all schools among other issues.

Although the idea is to make Swahili teaching compulsory at primary and ordinary levels, Mutuuzo says schools will be encouraged to teach the language even at advanced level.

The idea to introduce compulsory Swahili lesson first came up in the 1992 government white paper on education policy review commission report titled ‘Education for National Integration and Development’. It was recommended that both Swahili and English be compulsory subjects throughout the primary cycle in both rural and urban schools.

In 2016, the then East African Affairs Minister, Shem Bageine said Swahili would be compulsory from primary to University level effective 2018. However, this wasn’t possible because of the absence of a regulatory framework and resources.

Mutuuzo says that government now has resources to put in place the council and implement activities, which will include recruiting teachers and other administrators.
She however, couldn’t specify how much is available but said resources would be drawn from government, the East African Community and donors.

Read Also: Dark history, teacher shortages impeding Swahili language growth in Uganda

Mutuuzo reiterated government’s commitment to popularize Swahili. She says that the Gender Ministry is drafting a roadmap to popularize the language in government institutions and the country at large. All plans shall be implemented by the council once it is operationalized.

According to the 1995 constitution, Swahili is the second official language of Uganda after English. However its development and usage has been low. Uganda’s move to approve the establishment of the council is also in fulfillment of Article137 (2) of the East African Community treaty.

The article states that Swahili shall be developed as a lingua franca of the community to support sustainable development and regional integration, although several member countries haven’t adhered to the provision. Mutuuzo says there was a negative attitude towards Swahili and they are determined to change this perception.