Language Learning

Ugandans must prepare to learn, speak Kiswahili

By September 11, 2019 No Comments

Ofwono Opondo addressing the media

Cabinet has approved the establishment of the Uganda National Kiswahili Council. 

Addressing the press on Tuesday, the government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said that the decision was reached at on Monday during a cabinet meeting at State House.

According to the 1995 Constitution, Swahili is the second official language of Uganda after English. However, its uptake has been low due to the bad attitude Ugandans have against it after being used by past tormenting armies as their official language. In 2010, government revealed plans to establish a Kiswahili Council to boost the teaching of Swahili language in the country. 

The National Swahili Council is meant to guide the planning process, implementation of interventions and allocation of resources to the usage and development of Kiswahili as a Lingua franca-a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different. 

The council will also ensure that the policy, legal and institutional framework is in place through setting standards for effective promotion, development and usage of Kiswahili at all levels.

It will also provide harmonization, coordination and collaboration among ministries, departments and agencies in the promotion, use and development in Uganda through registration of all the stakeholders in Kiswahili.

Also, it will provide a framework for assessing the responsiveness of plans, policies, and interventions through the systematic implementation of Kiswahili. According to Opondo, all Ugandans should prepare to start learning Kiswahili. Kiswahili is one of the more than 60 languages used in Uganda.

Uganda’s move to approve the establishment of the council is also in fulfilment of Article 137 (2) of the East African Community Treaty. The article states that Kiswahili shall be developed as a lingua franca of the community to support sustainable development and regional integration although several member countries have not adhered to this provision of the law.

Late 2018, Kenya also approved the establishment of the National Kiswahili Council to inform government policy on developing, protecting and supporting the language. Tanzania has taken the lead, promoting the language not only in Tanzania but across the continent. In May 2019, Tanzania trained over 700 Swahili teachers to train members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

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