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SA and Tanzania to sign MoU to cement the implementation of the Kiswahili Language in South African schools

Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga attended a virtual meeting with the High Commissioner of Tanzania to South Africa, His Excellency Major-General Gaudence Salim Milanzi on 10 May 2022. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the Minister’s proposed visit to Tanzania, the implementation of the Kiswahili Language in South African schools, as well as the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for establishing bilateral cooperation between South Africa and Tanzania on Basic Education.

The Minister announced, during September 2018, that Kiswahili will be taught in South African schools as part of the Decolonisation of South African History programme and subsequently met with the former High Commissioner of Tanzania, His Excellency, Mr Sylvester Ambokile, to discuss South Africa’s intention to teach Kiswahili in the basic education sector. Minister Motshekga indicated that the DBE is committing 90 schools, 10 per province, to implement Kiswahili Second Additional Language (SAL) to be rolled out as follows: Grades 4-6 from 2021-2023; Grades 7-9 from 2024-2026; and Grades 10-12 from 2027-2029.

The areas of intended collaboration towards a MoU in respect of the teaching and learning of the Kiswahili Language are: to exchange expertise in the teaching and learning of the language; encourage the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the training of the Kiswahili Language; encourage the use of tutors from local communities in the teaching of the language since South Africa already has Kiswahili speaking communities; and the design of teacher exchange programmes to immerse teachers in the Kiswahili Language.

Minister Motshekga initially held an introductory review meeting with the new High Commissioner, MG Milanzi on 17 November 2020, on the status of the MoU and both parties agreed that the MoU should be finalised speedily. After consultations between the DBE and the Tanzanian Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, an agreed text was finalised on 17 January 2022. The MoU was vetted by all the relevant legal offices in South Africa and is now awaiting approval by the President, through a Presidential Minute. The Minister will be able to sign the MoU with her Tanzanian counterpart during July 2022. The implementation of Kiswahili Language forms an integral part of the MoU.

World Kiswahili Language Day was declared by UNESCO Member States in 2021, and is celebrated annually on 7 July. Kiswahili is one of the most widely used languages of the African family, and the most widely spoken in sub-Saharan Africa. It is amongst the 10 most widely spoken languages in the world, with more than 200 million speakers. It is one of the lingua franca in many countries within East, Central and Southern Africa, as well as in the Middle East.

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