Botswana to Introduce Swahili Language in Local Schools

Botswana plans to introduce Swahili language in the southern African country’s local schools, according to Fidelis Molao, the country’s minister of basic education. Speaking at a language-teaching workshop in Francistown, Botswana’s sec­ond-largest city, Molao said that the Swahili language would be an important asset for students in the country, where English is the official language.

Setswana, a Bantu language in which noun classes are denoted by prefixes, is widely spoken across the country. Other languages include Kalanga, Sarwa, Ndebele, Kgalagadi, Tswapong, !Xóõ, and Yeyi.

Swahili, also a Bantu language, is widely spoken in eastern and southeastern Africa including in Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwan­da, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and parts of Malawi.

Formerly one of the world’s poorest countries, Botswana has become an African success story with one of the world’s fast­est-growing economies and is now the conti­nent’s oldest continuous democracy. Swahili will be the first African language to be taught as a foreign language in the country, which relies heavily on mining and tourism.

Trade within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which is headquartered in Botswana and has several Swahili-speaking countries as members, is seen as key to Botswana’s continued growth, Molao said. English, French, Portuguese, and Swahili are the working languages of the SADC.