Uganda plans to have students study Kiswahili and French

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Ugandan politicians are currently debating whether or not to make Kiswahili and French compulsory subjects in the country’s school system. As two of the official languages ​​of the East African Community (EAC), the two languages ​​play a prominent role in neighboring countries. However, according to some Ugandan politicians, the country lags behind its neighbors in terms of linguistic unity, as neither language is a compulsory subject in Ugandan schools.

Adopting a policy of compulsory French and Kiswahili education could help the country better equip itself to navigate international affairs, according to Rebecca Kadaga, Uganda’s minister in charge of African Community affairs. ‘East. Uganda is home to several dozen indigenous languages, but English and Kiswahili are the only languages ​​with official status in the country. After the country’s independence from the United Kingdom in the early 1960s, English was adopted as the country’s sole official language, in part because the country’s great linguistic diversity made it difficult for politicians to agree on another official language. Kiswahili was granted official status in 2005 – the language plays a particularly important role in neighboring countries, where it had been adopted as an official language much earlier.

Currently, the Ugandan census does not include language data, so it may be difficult to estimate the number of fluent and/or native speakers of the country’s official languages. By the 1970s, however, around 35% of the country was fluent in Kiswahili. Each language serves as a lingua franca for the many ethnic and linguistic communities residing in the country; however, indigenous languages ​​such as Luganda are the most important locally. The EAC, an organization of seven countries located in East Africa, recently adopted French as its official language, reflecting the widespread use of the language throughout the region, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and in Rwanda. While Uganda was not colonized by any French-speaking country, politicians like Kadaga argue that the language retains an important role across the African continent, where it is spoken by over 140 million people (who are mainly concentrated in West and Central Africa, however). ).

Kadaga will propose compulsory education in French and Kiswahili in a speech to the Ugandan cabinet before it can be considered by the country’s parliament. Currently, Kiswahili is a compulsory subject in secondary schools but not at the primary level. French is also a common option for students in the country but is not compulsory at any level.

Before adopting a policy that would make both languages ​​compulsory, some politicians in the country would like the EAC to fund training centers to ensure that the country’s educational infrastructure is fit to teach both languages ​​adequately.

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