Kiswahili 'not a priority'

It is hypocritical and unpatriotic to introduce Namibians to Kiswahili when they have not mastered their own languages, says PDMYL spokesperson Maximalliant Katjimune.

16 January 2020 | Education

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) youth league has rejected a government plan to introduce Kiswahili in Namibian schools.

At a media conference on Tuesday, PDMYL spokesperson Maximalliant Katjimune emphasised that their rejection should not be seen as 'un-African' but that Kiswahili is simply not a priority at this point.

“Moreover, it is hypocritical and unpatriotic as Namibians to introduce other African languages while we Namibians have not even mastered our own indigenous languages,” he said.

“Most Namibians can only speak their own indigenous language, English and Afrikaans. It must be the aim of government to ensure that Namibians are patriotic and learn a different mix of Namibian languages, rather than introducing a language from a faraway country which has no significance and relevance to the ordinary Namibian.”

Cabinet approved the introduction of Kiswahili in Namibian schools last year, following a two-day visit by Tanzanian president John Magufuli.

During his visit in May, Magufuli said: “We hope that Namibia will follow in the steps of other SADC countries, which have introduced Swahili into their education systems, such as South Africa and Rwanda. Tanzania will provide Swahili teachers and learning materials as a way to train Namibians to become Swahili teachers.”

Some education sector stakeholders have expressed concern over the cabinet decision, saying it will confuse pupils.

At the time, Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) president Mahongora Kavihuha said there should be no problem introducing new languages or subjects to the curriculum if they have the potential to add value.

“If that language or subject will add value, be meaningful, and add or create competitiveness in terms of employment, exposure and opportunities, then there is no problem,” he said.

Kavihuha also warned that although it might be a good decision, without a comprehensive approach the introduction of the language could be futile.

Youth activist Shaandre Cavin Finnies described the PDMYL's utterances as on Kiswahili as “fundamentally Afrophobic”.

“The state didn't propose compulsory classes. It proposed an option for an elective African language. One that doesn't belong to a tribe, but rather to a multitude of African nations. They can keep the same energy with German, French and the various other Western languages which are currently being taught in schools. The purpose of an opposition shouldn't be to simply oppose,” Finnies wrote on social media.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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