An Analysis on the Strategic Implications for Tanzania Using Kiswahili as Teaching Language Up to the Higher Learning Institutions

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  • Topic: Tanzania, Kenya, Swahili language
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  • Published : October 8, 2012
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An Assessment on the Strategic Implications for Tanzania Using Kiswahili as an Educational Language Up to the Higher Learning Institutions

Introduction

For a number of years, the United Republic of Tanzania has been strongly debating the use of Kiswahili language as an education medium from the lower levels, which are primary schools to the higher levels, (which means to be used in the colleges and universities). The debate has not been official, but academics, scholars and some politicians had been on different forums and involved in interested academic discussions whereby they brought out their views on the impact of using Kiswahili as the official teaching language at all levels in Tanzania especially in this contemporary world.

There are different views and perceptions on its impact at the local, regional and international level and the likely consequences in this interconnected and globalised world and all its attendant challenges. Some people say that there will be more of positive impacts than negative ones. It is argued that this debate has been there since 1960s; however this did not receive any conclusive considerations because of being politicised. This essay will evaluate these arguments.[1]

Arguably, the decision for a particular country to use its own national language depends on a number of economic and social drivers to include global economic positioning in terms of trade and industry, educational infrastructure and capacity to deliver a formal recognised qualifications syllabus in the target languages. It can be argued that the use of Kiswahili regionally will be of beneficial to the people of Tanzania because of its portability in business.[2] Mr Moses Magiri, Destination Manager Private Safari, East Africa Limited argues that, “as the developing countries we need the outside world than they need us…”[3] His views suggest that there is a relationship between the economy prosperity of a country and its influence on its national Language. As it was highlighted previously that one of the factors that influences that expansion of a Language internationally is about its economy. Therefore it can be argued that Tanzania is a developing country and thus it needs more time to think and develop sustainable strategies for its economy so that it can influence other areas of its interests.

For example on 03 October, 2011, Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation 1(TBC1) aired a repeated exclusive interview which was prepared by Radio Presenter Mr. Shaban Kisu with Dr. Peter Mtesigwa as the guest. It was learnt that Dr. Mtesigwa had a comprehensive experience of teaching Kiswahili Language, in and outside the country. He argued that Kiswahili Language can definitely expand outside our borders, but there should be sustainable and serious strategies to sell the Language as a commodity.[4]

A country like the United Kingdom, managed successfully to sell its Language because they were determined and focused. The Britons were just like business men who had credible business strategies in a competitive environment. Tanzania likewise needs to be vigilant to do the same. ‘Baraza la Kiswahili Tanzania’ (BAKITA) and other stake holders in Kiswahili Language should therefore get out of the shell and learn from others how they managed to have influences through their Languages. One of the questions is: How Britons, Germans and others managed to use their Languages for development?

Overall, this essay will show that within the sub-region which covers Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, DRC Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, the use of Kiswahili Language will strengthen the interoperability in terms of cross border trade, security sector reforms and other areas of economy. However, there is a concern that beyond the sub-region, Tanzanians will be constrained in the communications and interoperability at the regional and international levels due to lack of proficiency in widely spoken languages. Therefore, this essay...
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