The learning and teaching of Swahili has been made compulsory in Uganda’s secondary schools, a move that the East African country believes will promote regional integration within the East Africa Community (EAC).
Uganda’s National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) has finalised its 2017 secondary school curriculum, which includes Swahili as a compulsory subject alongside English.
An overhaul of the secondary school curriculum to fit Swahili language saw the condensing of 43 taught subjects into 8 core learning areas.
The term “subjects” has now been replaced with “learning areas”, which are creative arts, mathematics, science, religious education, social studies, technology and enterprise, life education, and languages.
“Swahili, like English, has been made compulsory in secondary schools,” Mathias Mulumba, the coordinator of secondary schools’ reform programme, said. “Swahili will make Ugandans competitive in the fast integrating East Africa.”
Mulumba said that in-service teachers will be retooled in 2016 in a bid to prepare them for the implementation of the new curriculum, but especially the teaching of Swahili.
Students will also choose an additional language out of the approved foreign and local languages. Optional languages include Latin, German, French, Arabic, Luganda, Lugbara, Acholi, Langi, Lusoga, Runyankole-Rukigaand, Ateso.
Educationists say the addition of Swahili as a compulsory language is intended to provide a holistic education and promote critical thinking, creativity, numeracy, interpersonal skills, professional mannerism and innovation among students across the east Africa sub-region.
Universities and higher institutions of learning have also been directed to restructure their curriculum to meet the reform.
Uganda joins two other EAC countries, Kenya and Tanzania, that have integrated Swahili into their official languages. The language is also widely spoken in Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi.