As a coda to my blog entry of a couple weeks back, I'm posting this short article on the major new development in the Tanzanian education sector I found in an academic journal out of the U.S. called Language.
Tanzania Drops English for Kiswahili
Since Tanzania's independence from Britain in 1961, public education has
been bilingual, beginning with Kiswahili – known as Swahili in the West
– in elementary school, and switching to English from high school to
President Jakaya Kikwete and his administration have
launched new education guidelines that will make only Kiswahili the
language of instruction from primary school to university level.
English classes will still be available as foreign language credit,
but the main language of instruction will be Kiswahili, making Tanzania
the first sub-Saharan African country to conduct education on a national
scale in an African language.
Atetaulwa Ngatara, the assistant director
for policy at the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training,
commented, "To think that learning in English will lead to students
communicating in English is wrong. Communicating in English is something
else, which has to do with language studies."
Some regard this as a bold assertion of cultural self-affirmation. Although Tanzania is home to over 130 languages and cultures, Kiswahili
emerged from various ethnic conflicts as a uniting force and a means by
which the country has created a collective identity.
addition to cultural identity, the new guidelines hold practical
implications for education reform.
Kikwete hopes to bring some clarity
to a bilingual system that has left students confused and not
necessarily proficient in either language. The policy aims to provide
consistency in text and reference books throughout both public and
"It's impossible that every school uses its own
reference book when the final examinations are the same," said President
Kikwete, "How do we expect students to pass in these conditions?"