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Parliament Criticized for Slow Uptake of Swahili Lessons :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Parliament Criticized for Slow Uptake of Swahili Lessons

Although Swahili is not widely spoken in Uganda, Kadaga noted that hosting the international Swahili Day has had a significant impact on raising awareness and interest in the language within Ugandan society.
08 Jul 2023 08:57

Audio 2

Parliament has come under fire for its slow progress in implementing Swahili lessons, unlike the other organs of government that have already embraced the program. The revelation came from Rebecca Kadaga, the East African Affairs Minister and former speaker of parliament, during the closing ceremony of the international Swahili Day at Hotel African in Kampala.

Designated by UNESCO in 2021, July 7th marks International Swahili Day, and this year it was hosted in Uganda with a series of events. Swahili, spoken by approximately 280 million people in the East African region and neighboring countries such as Mozambique, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is not as widely popular in Uganda and South Sudan, despite being a member of the regional bloc.

To promote the uptake of Swahili in Uganda, the government has devised several strategies, one of which is to incorporate the language into the three branches of government. The Ministry of East African Affairs is spearheading this initiative. During the culmination of the three-day event, Kadaga noted that out of the three organs of government, only the parliament has yet to embrace Swahili lessons. On the other hand, progress has been made in the cabinet and judiciary. 

Kadaga stated that all the necessary materials for teaching Swahili in parliament are ready, but the institution has yet to commence the process of utilizing them. 

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Although Swahili is not widely spoken in Uganda, Kadaga noted that hosting the international Swahili Day has had a significant impact on raising awareness and interest in the language within Ugandan society.   

“For me, the highlight is that Swahili has been spoken in Uganda today at an unofficial ceremony, for me that is a landmark it's a very big achievement, the other thing we have achieved today is awareness.  I have received so many messages om Ugandans all over the country offering to help me market Swahili in Uganda. The other is the good news from the University of Dar-es-salaam, that there are scholarships for those countries that are deficient in Swahili,” she said.   

In a speech delivered by the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja on behalf of President Museveni, it was emphasized that Swahili is a unifying language in the East African region and a key factor for prosperity. Museveni highlighted that Swahili, being a neutral dialect embraced by many countries in the region, can be learned and added to one's mother tongue, facilitating trade within the region.   

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John Chrysostom Muyingo, the State Minister for Higher Education, explained that the ministry has taken the initiative to promote Swahili in Ugandan society, particularly through the education system. “Ugandans are seriously reading, we have got quite a number of them with PhDs in Swahili, in lower teacher education institutions Swahili is a must.  Those of you who have not yet caught up, there are many opportunities for you to take up Swahili,” Muyingo explained.

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