It’s time our schools, universities started teaching local languages

The University of Nairobi on May 11, 2018. It's time universities in the country started teaching African languages, besides Kiswahili. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Considering that the majority of Kenyans don’t speak, though they may partially understand, English and Kiswahili why is it that the various Kenyan languages aren’t taught formally in our schools?
  • How is it possible that more than 50 years since the end of colonialism — which ironically did encourage the teaching of African/Kenyan languages — our languages don’t feature in our syllabi, except at the lower primary school level?

There is a saying out there that language is the key mark of an individual’s identity. Those who believe in this argument say that one’s language carries that person’s culture and determines how the person sees and behaves in the world. This thinking claims that, therefore, language is the determinant of group/ethnic/racial identity. In this sense, (speaking) Kiswahili makes one a Mswahili, and therefore, distinct from, say a Teso. Of course this is only partially true. But language indeed has something to do with the way we see, understand and behave in the world.


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