Uganda: MPs Want Leaders to Learn Swahili

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Jul 26 12:11:35 UTC 2007

MPs Want Leaders to Learn Swahili

The Monitor (Kampala)
26 July 2007
Posted to the web 25 July 2007

By Agness Nandutu

ALL leaders in the country must be able to communicate in the Swahili
language, members of Parliament have demanded. MPs on the Foreign
Affairs committee chaired by Loi Kiryapawo (Budaka) said yesterday the
programme of popularising Swahili should not stop in primary schools
but should be a government policy to include leaders at all levels. Ms
Kiryapawo said the committee made the recommendation to the Ministry
of East African Community Affairs, which they expect to be included in
their 2007/08 policy statement to Parliament.

She said since the programmes to have all leaders learn the language
has started with MPs, it should go down to local government leaders.
The legislators are registering for Swahili lessons that commence on
August 6 at the Institute of languages in Makerere University. "We
want [it to be] a government policy for every Ugandan to learn Swahili
especially leaders. We have to lead by example. Leaders move to other
East African countries but always get embarrassed because they cannot
speak Swahili.

It's good that MPs will begin learning the language but all leaders
should do the same," Ms Kiryapawo said. Swahili is the language
predominantly spoken in Kenya and Tanzania, key members of the East
African Community. It is also widely spoken in DR Congo and throughout
the Great Lakes Region. Committee vice chairperson Kakoba Onyango
(Buikwe) said since it is a constitutional provision to have Swahili
as the second national language, the government should ensure that
every Ugandan learns it. Swahili became the second national language
after the Constitutional amendments in 2005.

"Our recommendation is in line with the Constitution. All school
children should learn Swahili but we should also provide for leaders
who have already left school," he said.
He said the training of MPs is just a preliminary programme as they
wait for the government to bring a Bill to Parliament.  Ms Kiryapawo
said the Local Government Ministry would come up with a structure to
have local government leaders train in Swahili. "As we federate, all
these leaders would be affected if they don't learn Swahili. All LC5,
LC3 and LC1 Chairpersons should learn it," she said.

State Minister for Primary Education Peter Lokeris told Daily Monitor
by phone that the curriculum Development Centre is already printing
Swahili books to be distributed to all schools in the country and that
Swahili teachers have been recruited. "We have already incorporated
Swahili on the secondary school syllabus. Primary is not yet but we
are making a design," he said. As Uganda prepares to federate with
Swahili speaking countries, very few can speak the language, even the
few who do speak an adulterated version.

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