All primary schools will start teaching Kiswahili language starting next year when the new academic year opens, a ministry of Education official has said.
“We have been preparing ourselves to start teaching this language and everything is ready. A pilot study was carried out and the teaching will start at Primary Four to Primary Seven,” Dr Tony Mukasa, the assistant commissioner for Primary Education, said during a meeting of chief administrative officers in Kampala yesterday.
He said they have already distributed Kiswahili textbooks to schools and the teachers have been undergoing training for the past four years.
The move is aimed at consolidating Kiswahili as the second national language since it is already commonly used in the East African Community.
Dr Mukasa said schools that do not implement the policy are likely to suffer since in three years’ time, the ministry may decide to have Primary Leaving Examinations written in Kiswahili and later make Kiswahili an examinable subject by the Uganda National Examinations Board at primary level.
Government has in recent years been promising to implement Kiswahili teaching in schools. However, the matter has not come to pass partly due to lack of a coherent government policy on language development. Some schools say they do not have teachers of Kiswahili.
“I don’t know their plan. At my school, we have the textbooks for Kiswahili but we don’t have a Kiswahili teacher. Are we going to teach it by ourselves using the books or are they going to post a teacher in every school?” Mr James Jjuko, the head teacher of Kisugu Primary School in Kampala and representative of the Head Teachers Association, said.
Ms Plan Virginia, the head teacher of Triple P Primary School in Kampala, said government brings out policies haphazardly, which creates a crisis. “They bring on board a policy without proper planning, and I know this one will bring a crisis. For instance, there are no enough teachers, materials or plan for this Kiswahili but since it is what the government wants, we have to comply,” Ms Virginia said.
Government in September endorsed the establishment of the Uganda National Kiswahili Council whose main objective is to guide the introduction of Kiswahili as the second national (official) language.
Kiswahili is already the national language of Kenya and Tanzania and is widely spoken in eastern Uganda, Burundi, parts of Rwanda and eastern DR Congo.