President of Malawi Lazarus Chakwera has ordered the country’s education sector to immediately introduce the Swahili language to school curriculums, aiming to ease business and commerce communication with Swahili speaking countries.
During a televised press conference last week – joint with the visiting President of Tanzania Samia Suluhu Hassan, Chakwera keenly spoke about efforts to strengthen relations between the two nations.
“I am pleased to inform you, everyone, that I have shared with Her Excellency the exciting news of my administration’s decision to introduce language studies to strengthen both Malawi and Swahili-speaking sister countries like Tanzania,” Chakwera said. “And my ministry of education is instructed to implement that policy with the agency.”
On a three day visit to Malawi – invited as a guest of honor for Malawi’s 59th independence anniversary celebrations, Hassan explained that Tanzania would provide everything necessary for Malawi to introduce the Swahili language into education.
Hassan told reporters “On Kiswahili (another term for the Swahili language), my brother said it well,” – “And I thank you for the decision you have taken. Tanzania is ready to give all what is required to make Kiswahili being taught in Malawi schools. We are ready for that.”
Tanzania – a largely Swahili-speaking nation, is one of several neighboring countries to Malawi, where most Malawian traders go to source goods. These include clothes, hardware, machinery parts and motor supplies. Many Malawians find the cost of Swahili language interpreters is too high.
At this stage it is unknown whether Swahili language classes will be made compulsory, and to what degree they will be taught.
The official language of Malawi is English, however census data from 2008 showed that only 26% of Malawians above the age of 14 considered themselves English speakers. The main language, spoken by over 57% of people is Chewa, originating in central and southern regions. Yao and Tonga are also widely spoken.