• Friday, 14 June 2024
Uganda's large bet in adopting Kiswahili

Uganda's large bet in adopting Kiswahili

Following a recent cabinet decision, Kiswahili will become a compulsory subject in Ugandan primary schools for the first time, but experts believe it is still a long way from becoming a widely known and cherished language in the country.

Kiswahili is the most widely spoken African language, spoken in practically every country in the East African Community, and is one of the bloc's official languages, however, it is not widely spoken in Uganda.

Experts in academia and the media, as well as government officials, convened online on Thursday to say that Uganda's relaunched efforts to make Kiswahili one of its lingua francas will be difficult, as a number of obstacles may delay the process.

According to the netizens interviewed, the problems range from a long history of hostility toward the language in Uganda to a lack of resources that make studying the language difficult.

"When our children start using Swahili freely, it will no longer be considered as a language for hoodlums and goons, and the cabinet's decision to make it compulsory in primary schools establishes a precedent for its expansion in Uganda," he said.

Uganda declared Kiswahili as one of its official languages on July 5, making it a mandatory subject in primary schools and requiring the entire cabinet and parliamentarians to study the language.

According to Dennis Mugimba, a Ministry of Education official attempts to make Kiswahili a compulsory subject in schools date back to 1992, but it has yet to be widely accepted.

However, educators, particularly those who teach the subject, argue that teaching Kiswahili in Uganda is still difficult. According to Ednah Asiima, a Kiswahili instructor, there is a scarcity of instructional resources and teachers for the subject.

Mr. Mugimba highlighted low secondary school enrollment in Kiswahili as a reason for the low demand for Kiswahili teachers, but he noted that this is improving because the ministry employed at least 1,000 more teachers at the end of last year.

However, Kiswahili's problems in Uganda are not limited to classrooms and schools. According to experts, some people may be hesitant to embrace it because they are concerned that it would change their cultural heritage and replace local languages.

Some experts believe Uganda may follow in the footsteps of its neighbor, Kenya, where, despite the fact that Kiswahili has been the national language since 1964 and the official language since 2010, most government business is handled in English, and just a few people can speak it fluently.

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