MPs Oppose Introduction of Kiswahili in Primary Schools

Aruu County MP Odonga Otto

Members of Parliament on Education Committee have questioned government’s introduction of kiswahili as a language to be taught alongside other subjects in Primary Schools.
MPS argued that the introduction of the language is to consume more time and pile work load of the children in primary schools than concentrating on other subjects that they must base on to get career.

Hon. Odonga Otto questioned
Hon. Odonga Otto questioned where the idea of introducing Kiswahili came from saying parents should decide whether their children speak a local language

This was during the appearance of members from the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) before the committee to submit explanations of the quality and standards of the Centre and budget requests highlighted in the Ministry of Education and Sports Ministerial Policy Statement for Financial Year 2013-2014.

A government directive was given that Kiswahili should be taught in schools to enable Ugandans to fit within the East African Community.

NCDC has been running a pilot on the Kiswahili syllabus in primary schools and the pilot schools will complete the cycle at P7 in this Financial Year.

According to NCDC, an evaluation of the pilot informed that the Kiswahili Curriculum for Primary schools should start at Primary Four and the retooling process for teachers is planned to start in the medium term.

The Director of NCDC Connie Kateeba told the committee that through Teacher Education, the syllabus for all Primary Teacher Colleges (PTCs) has been revised to include teaching of Kiswahili to all the Pre-Service teachers.

MP Acayo Christine question NCDC’s argument when cabinet directed to introduce Kiswahili as a compulsory subject in primary schools saying that what is on ground is that Kiswahili introduction is unrealistic.

She asked whether for a person to know Kiswahili must be taught first in schools and how the practicability of the language.

MP Julius Maganda told NCDC members that they had based on the directive of cabinet without carrying out research to enable them come up with an applicable program that would be performed and help people on the ground.

He advised that before the language being introduced in Primary, the centre would have thought of bringing on teachers in primary through training them in Kiswahili language at PTCs.

MP Odongo Otto questioned where the idea of introduction of Kiswahili as a compulsory subject came from arguing that previously students were punished in schools for using vernacular and that a child’s learning of a local language should be decided by the parents.

However, the Director of NCDC Kateeba argued that a language is a resource to any person and a tool that can be used any time in one’s life and the number of languages a person learns the better for him or her.

She said that the Kiswahili language is supposed to be examined but said that she is not yet certain when the Kiswahili syllabus will kick off in primary schools saying that the Ministry of Finance said that it will be rolled out in the medium term which is probably in three years time.

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7 thoughts on “MPs Oppose Introduction of Kiswahili in Primary Schools

  1. The MPS opposing Swahili are swimming against the tide. It is widely used in the EAC and beyond. They probably think that because their children will go on to study in Europe and America, they wont need it. But, times are changing. What if they loose their seats and their children end up having to trade in Congo, Rwanda, Burundi etc where it is quickly becoming the lingua franca? I think that they are very short sighted. Every medium of communication is worth knowing especially one that is growing. My children dont have to speak Runyankole because its not growing. They can speak Swahili or English while in Mbarara and they will find their way and be understood.

  2. Really no language other than English the official Language and a local languge of choice by a given family should be forced onto any one. Yes , knowing different languages may be powerful and advantageous, but it should be left to choices by individuals. my foot m7.

  3. I have already stated somewhere that we don’t seem to know what we want! We are here championing East African integration, of which language is one key component, and in the same breadth shooting down the introduction of Kiswahili to our children. Yet we expect these kids to grow up and compete for jobs in the wider East Africa. Where will the kids go with the local languages that we are pushing them to learn? We have to get serious and think widely and strategically and stop this narrow-minded and, I suspect, sectarian way of looking at issues. Language is dynamic and changes with changing socio-economic environment so that “irrelevant” languages die a natural death and people adopt languages that help them in their socio-economic interactions. That is why English has managed to overrun French despite the dogged determination of the fellows in Paris to preserve “their” French (case in point – Rwanda)! There’s belief that the next major “world” language after English will become Chinese.

  4. Anything that can be done to get Ugandans of the future speak and write Swahili should be encouraged. Just because the MPs do not know Swahili should not annoy them when a choice is made for children to learn the language. The questions they are asking are merely destracting us from learning a regional language. Even English was forced on us and now we pride in using it. I was punished for not using English in Primary School but this did not deter me from mastering my mother tongue as well.

  5. Quote: “Hon. Odonga Otto questioned where the idea of introducing Kiswahili came from saying parents should decide whether their children speak a local language”

    I used to admire the young MP, but this coming out of him makes me look at him as just another disillusioned MP.

    Unlike English which one has to pay for to learn, Kiswahili can be learned easily as long as you listen to it frequently. Many people in Uganda have some knowledge of it and learned it without going to school. In any case why should we think of a united East Africa when we cannot accept a lingua franca. Kiswahili is spoken in most African countries and is used widely all over Uganda. Teaching it would be one way of uniting the nation or even Africa as a whole.

    Hon. Odonga Otto, what is wrong with you and other who have sold this country?
    Promoting local languages is causing tribalism and disunity.

  6. These guys are becoming confused to confuse the students, with the useless subject load students have, how can you add Kiswahili? I dont remember going to school to study the little i have, its all about passion!

  7. If Ugandans are to benefit from the EAC integration process, we have no option but to master the Kiswahili language. Article 137(2) of the treaty for the establishment of EAC provides for Kiswahili as a Lingua Franca for the region and this is the only way we shall be able to communicate amongst our selves as a region and trade freely.
    Am also certain that Kiswahili will also be a uniting language for all of us Ugandans with our broad ethnicity and therefore I see no harm in our children starting to study this language early enough. Let’s all partner in this noble cause. UMOJA WETU NI NGUZO YETU.

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