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Uganda Adopts Kiswahili As a Subject In Schools

Uganda adopts Kiswahili as East African Community (EAC) official language.

Uganda Adopts Kiswahili As a Subject In Schools.

The East African Community (EAC) resolution to make Kiswahili an official language of the bloc, alongside English, has been adopted by Uganda.

The Ugandan Cabinet agreed on Monday to carry out the directive issued during the 21st EAC extraordinary summit in Dar es Salaam in February 2021.

During the summit, heads of state amended Article 137 of the EAC Treaty to include the lingua franca as an alternate language for conducting official EAC business.

As a result, President Yoweri Museveni’s government has recommended that Kiswahili be taught in primary and secondary schools in Uganda.

Uganda’s minister for ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, said it was also agreed that training programs for Parliament, Cabinet, and the media be initiated.

This move is likely to put an end to the old joke that “Kiswahili was born in Zanzibar, grew up in mainland Tanzania, fell sick in Kenya, died in Uganda, and was buried in the Democratic Republic of Congo”.

And, despite the Ugandan government’s commitment to institutionalizing the language, public perception and buy-in remain the most significant obstacles in the country where English is the official language.

Ugandans have associated Kiswahili with death and destruction since the 1970s, as a result of human rights violations and other atrocities committed during Idi Amin’s dictatorship and civil wars.

In his rebellion against colonialists, Amin spoke and supported the language, vowing to “teach a lesson.”

Some of his soldiers used the language while terrorizing Ugandans, leaving Kiswahili opponents with dark memories.

Kiswahili, the Swahili language, is spoken by over 200 million people worldwide.

The African Union adopted Kiswahili as one of its official working languages in February of this year, three months after the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated July 7 as World Kiswahili Language Day.

It is already a national and official language in Kenya and Tanzania, and one of four national languages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the newest EAC member state.

It is also spoken by nearly 50% and 70% of the general public in Rwanda and Burundi, respectively.

Kiswahili, a product of the fusion of Bantu and Arabic dialects, is not only recognized as an East African unifying language, but it is also rich in dialect and expression.

In many EAC member countries, the language is used for social interaction and trade.

Kampala’s decision comes nearly five years after the EAC Council of Ministers directed partner states to develop national Kiswahili language policies and increase the language’s use in official domains.

In April 2017, the council also requested that member countries begin the process of institutionalizing Kiswahili by establishing national Kiswahili councils and national Kiswahili associations.


The EAC Treaty, in Article 119, calls for the development and promotion of indigenous languages, particularly Kiswahili, as lingua franca.

According to Global Voices, an international multi-lingual organization of writers, translators, academics, and digital rights activists, there are currently over 7,100 languages spoken around the world, with Africa accounting for 28% of them.

Despite the fact that Africa has over 2,140 local languages, English, French, and Arabic reign supreme. English, on the other hand, dominates the region’s online spaces.

However, this has shrunk to between 51 and 55 percent, down from 80 percent two decades ago. Kiswahili, which is now available online, is expected to become a more important trading language in the future.

Kiswahili is taught in universities all over the world, including China, and in the United States, an estimated 100 universities, including Harvard University, offer Kiswahili courses.

Uganda Adopts Kiswahili As a Subject In Schools



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