The ministry of education says the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted plans aimed at introducing Africa’s most internationally recognised language, Kiswahili, in Namibian classrooms.
Government had earlier set sights on introducing Kiswahili as an optional language in local schools by next year.
However, when contacted for an update last week, education ministry executive director Sanet Steenkamp said a memorandum of understanding is yet to be signed, between the relevant parties, to this effect.
She said this was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, whereby the ministry only concentrated mainly on continued education and saving the current academic year.
“In terms of Kiswahili, our ministry as well as the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation exchanged correspondence, however, at this stage, no memorandum of understanding was signed,” she said.
Cabinet in 2019 directed the ministry of education to 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 2019 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. 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.
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.
Delay… Education ministry ED Sanet Steenkamp
Photo: Emmency Nuukala