[lg policy] Uganda: Varsity Dons Want Government Commitment On Popularising Swahili

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Sep 27 10:41:14 EDT 2018

Uganda: Varsity Dons Want Government Commitment On Popularising Swahili

   - East Africa <https://allafrica.com/eastafrica/>
   - Education <https://allafrica.com/education/>
   - Governance <https://allafrica.com/governance/>
   - Uganda <https://allafrica.com/uganda/>

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By Dan Wandera

Kampala — A section of dons from leading Ugandan universities have blamed
the slow adoption of Swahili language on lack of political will, coupled
with poor attitude and perception among Ugandans.

According to Prof. Abas Kiyimba, a professor of Literature at Makerere
University Kampala, government policy makers and implementers have
backtracked on many would be good policies including the popularisation of
Swahili, whose progress he said is still very slow despite making it a
compulsory subject in secondary schools.

"Government has been slow in catching up with its own policies passed. The
first attempt to roll out Swahili as an official language was in 1973 when
it was decreed as a national language by then President Idi Amin through a
national vote. In 1995, Swahili language was for the second time enacted as
second official language and we would have expected policy implementers to
have made a significant progress which is not the case. We need a political
will to have this language spoken by more than 100 million people across
the African continent made visible. Perhaps the absence of a national
language policy could be another contributory factor," Prof Kiyimba said.

He was delivering a paper "The role of Kiswahili in the integration of East
African Community" at a public lecture held at Ndejje University, Kampala
Campus on Monday .

Kiswahili is already an official language in Tanzania and Kenya where it is
spoken by majority of the population. In Rwanda and Burundi, it is widely
spoken but some Ugandans claim the language was used by harsh colonial
officials and government law enforcement agencies and criminals, hence
their dislike for it.

Prof. Kiyimba advised government to avoid using terminologies such as
official language, national language that could possibly offend some people
who still nurse a bad past history for people who could have taken
advantage of 'this good language(Swahili)' for their selfish ends.

"Let Swahili language be taught like any other language with no coated
verbal medals," Prof. Kiyimba said .

Prof. Eriabu Lugujjo ,the vice chancellor Ndejje University called for a
speedy and well- thought-out- programme targeting all institutions of
learning to make teaching of swahili easier through availing small
pamphlets for easy reading.

"We should also have people who can develop small modules for Swahili
literature for readers. We have a variety of other avenues through which
the Kiswahili language can easily be taught. Let us develop teaching cells
like the way bible studies are held to ensure that even people who are not
in school get the opportunity to learn the language," Prof Lugujjo advised.

Earlier, Prof. Fred Wanjala Siminyu from the department of Kiswahili and
other African languages at Kibabii University, Kenya in his presentation,
said Swahili presents the opportunity of re-igniting and driving the
process of integration of East Africans.

When contacted State Minister for Higher Education, Mr John Chrysostom
Muyingo admitted that they encountered some challenges in popularising
Swahili language in the country.

"Honestly speaking, there have been some challenges, but there is an
ongoing review of the curriculum and we are going to ensure that Kiswahili
is compulsory at lower secondary level," he said

He said government had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with
Tanzania to get good Swahili teachers.

"Even in the next budget, we plan to put more money in promoting the
teaching of Kiswahili so that we consolidate it as a common language of the
East African Community," the minister added

The 1992 government White Paper on education policy review commission
report titled 'Education For National Integration and Development'
recommended that both Kiswahili and English be compulsory subjects
throughout the primary cycle in both rural and urban areas.

"Emphasis in terms of allocation of time and in the provision of
instructional materials, facilities and teachers will, however, be
gradually placed on Kiswahili as the language possessing greater capacity
for uniting Ugandans and for assisting rapid social development," the
report said.

In 2003, government ordered the ministry of Education to introduce
compulsory Kiswahili teaching in all lower and higher school levels in the
country in order to promote it ahead of the East African integration.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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