The University of Zambia (UNZA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Dar-es-salaam on academic cooperation to include among others the teaching of Kiswahili in Zambia.
The Minister of Education Douglas Syakalima said during the signing of the MoU , that his ministry is confident that the signing of the MoU between the two universities signifies a partnership which will bear fruit and be an example of what cooperation between African Universities can produce.
Mr Syakalima noted that the MoU will lead to the teaching of the Kiswahili language at UNZA and looks forward to when it will be taught in other institutions of learning in Zambia.
He established that the event is part of the practical implementation of resolutions by the Zambian and Tanzanian heads of state when President Hakainde Hichilema made an official visit to Tanzania on 2nd August 2022.
Mr Syakalima assured that the Zambian government and its people are ready to learn the Kiswahili language for communication, business and integration of the African Union.
He stated that the signing of the MoU is the beginning of a new chapter for joint cooperation in the promotion of Kiswahili language.
He further explained that UNZA management will prepare a roadmap that will help Zambians to learn Swahili to join the over 200 million people in the world who speak the language.
“In Africa, we feel proud to have the Kiswahili language which is also used officially in the African Union. This is a great achievement and African countries should be proud of this important language as it contributes to uniting the African continent,” he said.
Mr Syakalima explained that Kiswahili had a big contribution to the liberation movement in Southern Africa as it was the language used in the efforts to help some Southern African countries achieve political independence.
“The increase in the use of Kiswahili in various African countries and in the world, in general, is a sign of the growing influence and strength of the language. There are various factors contributing to the phenomenal growth of the language,” he said.
The Minister stressed that the recent introduction of the language in Congo (DRC) to join the East African community has increased the impact of Kiswahili in East, central and Southern Africa.
Mr Siyakalima indicated that there is need to build solid foundations to use Kiswahili as a tool to influence the performance of the African Union in view of the African Union’s 2063 agenda to strengthen the African continent in the next 50 years.
He assured both UNZA and the University of Dar-es-lam of government’s support in their quest to promote Kiswahili in Zambia.
He congratulated Tanzania for assembling to commemorate their second anniversary of World Kiswahili day and witnessing the signing of the MoU.
And High Commissioner of the United Republic of Tanzania to Zambia, Lt Gen Mathew Mkingule said the day of the Kiswahili serves as a reminder of the patriotism of the people of Tanzania.
Gen Mkingule said Kiswahili is among the 10 most spoken languages in the world and is taught in many universities not just in Africa but in most parts of the word including Europe and America.
He explained that Kiswahili serves as a bridge among different people of different cultures in the world because it is not only a language but a culture.
He highlighted that Kiswahili is the fourth official language in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) where Zambia is also a member.
He thank UNZA management and the Zambian government for the support rendered in ensuring that the Kiswahili language became part of the courses offered by UNZA.
Meanwhile, UNZA acting Vice Chancellor, Anne Sikwibele said UNZA will continue to work and partner with the University of Dar es salaam.
Prof Sikwibele said it is the first time that Kiswahili is being introduced at the University of Zambia and at any tertiary institution of learning in Zambia.
She added that it is gratifying that the MoU signed will go beyond the teaching of kiswahili and promote cooperation in other areas as well between UNZA and the University of Dar es lam.
The Vice Chancellor indicated that UNZA looks forward to a mutually beneficial and productive process of collaboration with the University of Dar es Salaam saying the collaboration on kiswahili is just the first of more to come under the MoU.
“The University of Zambia, through the department of arts, languages and literary studies, currently offers full degree programmes in Chinese and French, as well as a course in japanese. I am reliably informed that the department intends to introduce more foreign languages including Arabic, Greek and spanish. It is therefore worth noting that an african language, kiswahili, is about to be introduced at the department,” she disclosed.
She said in view of the demonstrated cultural and international significance of kiswahili in the world, it is commendable and appropriate that UNZA has joined the efforts being made to promote the language.
Prof Sikwibele noted that the introduction of Kiswahili at UNZA will assist with the promotion of the language in terms of teaching, learning and research.
She explained that short courses will be offered in Kiswahili through the department of arts, languages and literary studies and eventually a full degree programme in Kiswahili will be offered as a collaboration between UNZA and the university of Dar es salaam.
Meanwhile, Institute of Kiswahili Studies Director, Shani Mchepange said the Kiswahili language is taught in America in more than 100 Universities.
Deputy Vice chancellor, Academic for the University of Dar leselam, Bonaventure Rutinwa said the University promotes the language by offering the course at the same tuition fee for foreign students with the local students.
Prof Rutinwa said the University supports the teaching of the language at other universities abroad and has signed MoU’s with many other countries in Africa and other parts of the world.
He disclosed that the University also offers scholarships to foreigners willing to learn the language for the purpose of teaching it in their languages.
He stated that learning Kiswahili provides many opportunities to people in form trade and communication with people of other cultures.
UNESCO recognised and acknowledged the significance of kiswahili on the international linguistic landscape by designating 7th July as the world kiswahili language day.
It is the international day officially set aside for the commemoration of the Kiswahili language.