Uganda makes teaching Kiswahili in primary, secondary schools compulsory

Minister Chris Baryomunsi.

Government of Uganda has revealed it has approved the implementation of the 21st East African Community (EAC) summit directive in Uganda to adopt Kiswahili as an official language of the community.

While addressing the media on Tuesday,minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi said cabinet sitting on Monday further recommended that the teaching of Kiswahili language in primary and secondary schools should be made compulsory and examinable.


“It was further agreed that training programmes for Parliament, Cabinet and the media be initiated,” he said.

The development comes months after the African Union adopted Kiswahili as one of its official working languages, three months after the United Nations on November 23, 2021 designated July 7 as the World Kiswahili Language Day.

In 2017, Uganda National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) finalised the secondary school curriculum where Swahili was introduced as a compulsory subject alongside English.

It became the first African language, which is spoken by more than 200 million people, to be honoured by UNESCO.

Kiswahili, mainly spoken in the East African region, is a fusion of the dialect born of Bantu and Arabic languages, has earned its place of pride as one of the world’s top 10 most spoken languages and Africa’s most widely used native lingua. It enjoys official status national in Kenya, Tanzania and now Uganda. It is also widely spoken in parts of DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.

Officially, it was being used in the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional blocs before AU’s adoption.

Over the years, Kiswahili has spread south of the continent, to parts of Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, while Burundi, Madagascar and the Comoros islands have also adopted it.

In June 2020, South Africa introduced Kiswahili as an optional subject in the hope that the language could become a tool to foster cohesion among Africans.