Uganda is set to start importing teachers of the Swahili language from neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, as the country moves to deepen integration with its East African brothers.
Swahili is the lingua franca in most of East Africa, triggering a desire in Uganda to be in sync with its neighbours.
“We have plans to recruit Swahili language teachers so they teach Swahili in primary and secondary schools in the country,” Minister of Education, Jessica Alupo told a press conference.
“We are doing this in response to the need to integrate with other East African countries where Swahili is widely spoken.”
Swahili is widely spoken in Kenya and Tanzania. Rwanda and Burundi, other members of the East African Community, are also promoting the use of Swahili.
In Kenya and Tanzania more than 90 percent of the people can speak Swahili but in Uganda less than 5 percent can do so.
Uganda has the least percentage of people who can speak Swahili, as it is believed the language was associated with brutality because former armies spoke it during violent campaigns against civilians.
Now that the countries are integrating politically, Uganda has seen a necessity to teach its nationals the language so that they can easily communicate with their neighbours.
Alupo said the government has realised that Swahili is one of the strongest components in the process of the East African Community Federation and integration and has finalised the policy to teach Swahili in primary schools starting in 2013.
But some Ugandans say that instead of importing teachers, the government should embark on training tutors within the country.
“Instead of spending money on foreigners, the government should come up with a crash programme where Swahili teachers can be trained massively within the country in a short time,” said Nicholas Mbalule, a retired teacher.