Rwanda and South Sudan in the East African Community bloc and some states in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have taken measures to include Kiswahili in their curricula, creating strong demand for Kiswahili professionals to teach the language in the respective countries.
However, only Rwanda and South Sudan have so far shown the urge to introduce Kiswahili language in their schools.
Kiswahili is currently the third most widely spoken language in Africa where it is spoken by over 100 million people.
The South African government has already stated that it will introduce the language in its school curriculum in 2020, according to South African Minister for Education Angie Motshekga.
Sensing an opportunity for its nationals, Tanzania has been undertaking a training programme for qualified teachers and other Kiswahili experts ready to be dispatched to the countries.
“So far, over 380 Tanzanians have been trained on special education which will help them in their teaching responsibilities in the neighbouring countries,” the National Kiswahili Council (BAKITA) Executive Secretary Dr. Selemani Sewangi told the Guardian.
Dr. Sewangi said some of the professionals who have already completed the training are degree holders.
“What we are doing now is to prepare a good number of Kiswahili teachers so they can be promptly deployed in these countries when they are needed,” he said.
The executive secretary said however that the teachers’ deployment would commence after memoranda of understanding (MoU) between Tanzania and the countries will have been signed.
According to him, details showing the rights of the teachers, their obligations, responsibilities and remunerations will all be known once the MoU have been signed.
“The MoU will also specify the benefits of the respective teachers once in the respective countries to which they have been posted,” he noted.
Dr. Sewangi explained that not all the 380 trained teachers will go abroad to teach, adding that only those who pass an interview will be selected.
He added that the council was continuing with the training programme and it expected to increase the number to 600.
He would not give more details about the programme, but hinted that it was currently being coordinated by the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports. Attempts to reach it for comment proved futile.
One of the teachers who has just undergone the programme, Latifa Abdallah, told the Guardian that lessons were basically aimed at teaching the language to different age groups.
“We will use the knowledge and techniques we have learned effectively when we get the change to be dispatched to the respective countries,” she said.
Last year, the South Sudan government invited Tanzania to assist in teaching Kiswahili to its specialists in health, agriculture and other sectors.
South Sudan First Vice-President General Taban Deng Gai said his country was looking forward to declaring Kiswahili as a national language.
He made the request to Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan on the sidelines of the 29th General Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last year.
Other countries where Kiswahili is taught as a subject include Korea, China and Germany.