By Joanita Tushabe, Innocent Anguyo and Paul Kiwuuwa
UGANDA envoys and the diplomatic staff are encouraged to study languages of countries of their respective workstations, according to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Okello Oryem.
Oryem on Wednesday said that government had adopted the policy obliging diplomats to learn foreign languages in a bid to boost Uganda’s linguistic expertise. He was speaking at a workshop organized to commemorate 50 years of teaching foreign languages at Makerere University.
Oryem said that knowledge of such languages would come in handy in interpretation and translation during international negotiations carried out in foreign tongues.
“The ability to speak foreign languages is an asset in which diplomats participating in international negotiations would reap better results,” Oryem said.
He added that the move would also reduce costs of operation and shield Uganda from security loopholes often caused by hiring third party interpreters.
Prof Edward Kirumira, the Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences implored government to consider awarding contracts for translation and interpretation during international negotiations done in foreign languages to Makerere dons.
He said Makerere University has the capacity to interpret and translate in all major languages across the world.
Oryem’s comments come barely a year after government announced plans to set up an international institute to train all diplomatic envoys and staff working abroad in international languages.
Appearing before the parliament committee on foreign affairs last year, the foreign affairs permanent secretary Ambassador James Mugume then said envoys and the diplomatic staff working abroad needed to be trained in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swahiri, Chinese, Japanese and Russian.
The move, he revealed was aimed at easing diplomatic communications between Uganda and other countries. Government is yet to allocate funds for the construction of the institute.