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Challenges of African Languages in Education: The Case of Kiswahili in Tanzania

Benedict Lema


Tanzania presents a perfect case of former colonies that have strived to redress colonial legacies. The Africanization policy adopted after independence and cemented in the 1967 Arusha Declaration was a deliberate move to replace foreign workforce and practices with African values. Education was one of the sectors that needed and, indeed, received a lot of transformations. This paper particularly discusses language practices in the education system in Tanzania in that context. While both theory and practice favour Kiswahili as a medium of instruction at all levels of education, policy seems to work to the contrary. The discussion revolves around the most debated and controversial view that Kiswahili deserves to take over English as the Language of Instruction (LoI) in Tanzania. The paper draws heavily from sociolinguistic facts, and argues that Kiswahili still faces significant challenges in its bid to replace English in secondary and tertiary institutions. The paper comes to a conclusion by positing that despite the support extended to Kiswahili, the language needs more than what has been done, should it penetrate academic and professional markets, both locally and globally, mainly because stakeholders have been pulled by the ever increasing demand and market of the English language around the globe.


education, African languages, Kiswahili, Tanzania

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