South Africa is ready to implement the teaching of Kiswahili in schools starting from next year.
A total of 90 schools have been identified for the pilot programme, according to the country’s Ministry of Basic Education. The plan has been mooted since 2018.
Kiswahili is not native to South Africa so the country will import teachers from Tanzania. This was also confirmed by the Tanzanian ambassador to South Africa, Sylvester Ambokile.
Kiswahili is the “most international” African indigenous language. About 10 countries in eastern and southeastern Africa have populations that speak the language.
Ambassador Ambokile expressed the optimism for Tanzania’s contributions to the South African programme.
“I have written to the Ministry of Education in Tanzania and other relevant authorities informing them about the latest development,” Xinhuanet.com quoted Ambokile.
“And since the South African Minister for Basic Education announced the move to introduce Kiswahili as a subject, we have been receiving several phone calls from people in Tanzania asking how they could grab that chance to teach Kiswahili.”
This move represents a sharp dissonance with the general feeling among South African parents.
A recent research by Jacqueline Harvey and Steven Gordon found that about 65% of South Africans surveyed wanted their kids tutored mainly in English at the foundational phase between grades 1 and 3.
The ability to speak English, rather than an African language, is seen as a sign of refinement and middle-class status.