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Uganda adopts Kiswahili as an official language

Kiswahili

Uganda Cabinet has approved the adoption of Kiswahili as an official language and directed that it be made a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools.

The government set up the Uganda National Kiswahili Council in 2019 to guide the introduction of Kiswahili as the second national (official) language.

The Cabinet decision, Uganda says, is in line with the directive of the 21st East African Community (EAC) Summit held in February 2021 that directed the expedition of the implementation of Kiswahili, English and French as official languages in the bloc.

“Cabinet recommended that the teaching of Kiswahili language in primary and secondary should be made compulsory and examinable. It was also further agreed that training programmes for Parliament, Cabinet and the media be initiated,” a statement, released Tuesday, on the Cabinet resolutions read.

English has been Uganda’s only official language since independence in 1962. Kiswahili was proposed as the second official language in 2005 but is only taught as an optional subject in secondary schools since 2017.

While Kiswahili is the region’s lingua franca, spoken extensively in Tanzania as both national and official language, it was adopted as the official language of the EAC in 2017. EAC member states are Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and most recently the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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