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The Role of Kiswahili in the Process of National Development in Rwanda

P Ntawigira


As Rwanda’s interest in the regional and global economy grows, so does the interest of Rwandese in languages used in our region. Students in secondary schools, for instance, are keen in other foreign languages than English and French. During this opportune time when Rwanda is in a dynamic period of integration in the East Africa Community (henceforth EAC) and welcoming all East African countries to Kigali, it is worth examining how secondary school students perceive the importance of Kiswahili in the national development.

Taking into account that any additional language to the mother tongue is a new trump card in this globalization period, acquiring Kiswahili language as a second language for Rwandese students can sharpen their intellectual skills, increase their benefit from Kiswahiliphone countries, and broaden their cultural understanding. Strengthening Kiswahili in the educational system of Rwanda will play an important role to create the ability to communicate in Kiswahili and provide access to the world’s marketplaces, especially in our region of Great Lakes and the East Africa. This is a good starting point in development in our region. We wish to see Rwandese youth becoming proficient in Kiswahili in this opportune time of integration of Rwanda in the EAC. Rwandese youth, starting with those in secondary schools, deserve to take advantage of this opportunity.

The word “development” covers all economic growth indicators and non-economic indicators. Economic indicators that are referring to the strengthening of the material base, mainly industrialization, while the non-economic indicators are those that refer to the strengthening of the well being of members of the society. They include improvement in education provision, improvement in health conditions, a coherent and social organization, and adequately skilled labour supply to meet evolving national and international labour market needs etc. By the term “development” we mean all processes involving structural transformation in response to on going cultural, economic, political and social changes taking place within the society (Rassool 2009).

In this article, I will  highlight different views given by students, teachers, parents, curricula developers and some other people coming from different sectors, on the role of Kiswahili in the national development Rwanda. These views were colleted when I was carrying out   a research on language use in the education system of Rwanda.


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eISSN: 0023-1886