South African schools will from 2020 offer Kiswahili as an optional language for learners, the minister for basic education, Angie Motshekga said on Monday.
Motshekga, who said the decision had been approved by the country’s Council of Education Ministers, said the language will be offered at public, private and independent schools.
“Kiswahili has the power to expand to countries that never spoke it and has the power to bring Africans together,’‘ Motshekga said.
‘‘It is also one of the officials languages of the African Union. We are confident that the teaching of Kiswahili is South African schools will help to promote social cohesion with our fellow Africans.’‘
Kiswahili will be the first African language, from outside South Africa, to be offered at schools.
French, German and Mandarin are among foreign languages already offered in South African schools as optional subjects.
The rise of Kiswahili
Kiswahili is a Bantu language with lexical and linguistic similarities with many African languages spoken in the continent.”
Last month, South Africa’s radical opposition leader Julius Malema singled out Swahili as a potential common language that could be used throughout the continent, as one way of ‘decolonising Africa’.
In May this year, social networking giant, Twitter officially recognised Kiswahili as a language, making it the first African language to achieve the feat.
Hashtags like #SwahiliIsNotIndonesian and #TwitterRecognizeSwahili had been pushed by several Kenyans for a long time, petitioning Twitter to recognise the African language.