There has been much excitement in many quarters since Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, announced earlier this year that South African schools will be offering Kiswahili at a Second Additional Language level.
This excitement reached as far as Tanzania, Minister Motshekga discovered on 31 October 2018, following a meeting with the Tanzanian High Commissioner to South Africa, Mr Sylvester M Ambokile.
During September 2018, the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) approved the listing of Kiswahili as an optional Second Additional Language to be offered to learners.
There are currently fifteen (15) non-official languages listed in the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) as optional subjects; these include the likes of French, German, Mandarin and such. Unfortunately, there was no African language in the list of languages.
Kiswahili is a Bantu language with lexical and linguistic similarities to many African languages spoken on the continent. It is the third most spoken language (more than 100 million) in Africa after English and Arabic. Kiswahili was used as a trading language and a means of inter-ethnic communication long before the arrival of Europeans in Africa. It is expanding to countries that never spoke the language and has the power to bring Africans together. It is also one of the official languages of the African Union (AU). The Minister hopes this will help to promote social cohesion with fellow Africans across the continent.
The High Commissioner informed the Minister that even the President of Tanzania himself was thrilled at the news that South African learners would have an opportunity to learn Kiswahili. “We, as Tanzanians, are excited that South Africa is going to be developing a Kiswahili Curriculum for its learners, and as a country we want to support South Africa in whatever way we can. The announcement was all over the Tanzanian news – it was announced in newspapers and on radio stations,” said Mr Ambokile.
Tanzania offered to assist South Africa with the finalisation of the Curriculum and possibly with teacher development and other expertise as well.
The Minister expressed her gratitude to the Tanzanian High Commission and said she too has been overwhelmed by the positive way in which the news has been received by South Africans. “South Africans are excited at the prospect of learning Kiswahili, both inside the education sector and outside the Department, I have even had numerous calls from adults wanting to know if they will have an opportunity to learn the language as well,” said Minister Motshekga.
The Minister anticipates that this subject offering may illicit more uptake than some of the other additional languages offered, based on the interest she has already received.
Officials from the two countries will engage further to determine exactly what support the DBE will receive from Tanzania, but all agreed that this partnership will go a long way in assisting with the development and implementation of Kiswahili as an additional language offering in the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS).