Namibia: Kiswahili Coming in 2021

7 January 2020

Windhoek — The ministry of education says it will introduce KiSwahili as an optional language in schools by next year. Education executive director Sanet Steenkamp said yesterday the ministry will use this year to put all plans in place in the quest to introduce Africa's most spoken language in Namibian schools.

Cabinet last year directed the ministry of education unlock the potential of introducing the language into the Namibian school curriculum. Plans to introduce KiSwahili in local schools heightened during Tanzania's President John Magufuli's proposal to the Namibian government in May last year to consider it as an optional language.

Magufuli, during his state visit, said the introduction of the language in local schools would help remove barriers to trade and also foster better relationships between the two nations and others.

"Actually the issue of the introduction of the KiSwahili was discussed during our December executive meeting. We have looked at various options of how to go about the introduction of Kiswahili and one of the key issues we will consider is the piloting of KiSwahili in some schools," Steenkamp said upon enquiry yesterday.

"We will use 2020 to get all the groundwork in place and also to determine with the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) on how it can be piloted."

This will be the first African language from outside Namibia to be taught in local schools. In fact, SADC already adopted the language last year. The language was not only adopted as an official language, but has also been recognised by the regional bloc as a mode of communication in business in all sectors and the environment.

Tanzania's Magufuli is the current chairperson of SADC. KiSwahili is a Bantu language with lexical and linguistic similarities with many African languages spoken on the continent. It is the first language of the Swahili people.

Also, KiSwahili is a lingua franca of the African Great Lakes region and other parts of eastern and southeastern Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. South Africa also announced last year that it would be introducing KiSwahili this year in schools to help promote social cohesion amongst Africans. In 2016, Zimbabwe had also announced plans to introduce the language in the country's schools.

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