“It is unfortunate that there is slowness in implementation of the treaty that it is only Tanzania that has the Kiswahili Council but other member states are still failing to set up the facility which would be promoting the language,” Simala observed.
PIC: Professor Kenneth Inyani Simala the East African Kiswahili Commission Executive Secretary makes a point as Kiswahili Regional experts listen attentively. This was during a meeting on the development of principles and guidelines for Kiswahili Training programmes held at the Inter- University Council for East Africa headquarters.( Photo by Petride Mudoola)
The East African Community Kiswahili commission has asked Government to harmonise the development and use of Kiswahili to ensure regional integration and sustainable development.
Professor Kenneth Inyani Simala the East African Kiswahili Commission Executive Secretary made this request while officiating at the Regional Kiswahili experts meeting held at the Inter- University Council for East Africa headquarters on Tuesday.
Article137 (2) of the East African Community treaty states that Kiswahili shall be developed as a lingua franca of the community to support sustainable development and regional integration unfortunately some member states have failed to adhere to the agreement.
"It is unfortunate that there is slowness in implementation of the treaty that it is only Tanzania that has the Kiswahili Council but other member states are still failing to set up the facility which would be promoting the language," Simala observed.
Simala appealed to partner states to show commitment in promoting Kiswahili within the region.
"Each member state should be committed towards promoting Kiswahili. The language should be taught in primary, secondary and university level because teaching of Kiswahili is central to the harmonisation of education across the East African Community," Simala advised.
In Kenya and Tanzania, pupils are taught in Kiswahili, while English is taught as a mere subject; in Uganda, English is the major medium of instruction and Kiswahili is taught in a few schools while Burundi and Rwanda hardly have Kiswahili in their schools.
The late Eriya Kategaya the then minister of East African Affairs in 2011, issued a directive that by 2012, Kiswahili, as a language, be taught and examined compulsorily in Ugandan institutions of learning right from primary level.
Simala believes this initiative has been long overdue and that promotion of the Kiswahili language will not be limited to its practice but it will enable member states co-operate in trade, politics, media and the educational sector play its role as the regional lingua franca.
Kiswahili experts agreed that Kiswahili should be a major consideration in the efforts to harmonise education within the East African Community states, this they noted would promote peaceful resolution of conflicts, unity, life skills and economic growth within the region.
With a regional population of about 132 million people, the East African Community Facts and Figures report of 2009 estimated that the five member states occupy 1.8 million square kilometers.
Simala observed that, the regional population is a huge market and source of skilled and semi-skilled labour for the East African community unfortunately, Uganda may miss out on the job market since many of its citizens cannot speak Kiswahili.