Kiswahili teachers irked by continued exclusion in public recruitment

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Kiswahili teachers irked by continued exclusion in public recruitment
Kiswahili teachers, scholars convened in Namagoma, Wakiso to denounce government exclusion from recruitment exercise

The Uganda National Kiswahili Association, also known as Chama cha Kiswahili cha Taifa Uganda (CHAKITAU) had raised a red flag over the government's apparent exclusion of Kiswahili teachers from the ongoing recruitment exercise.

According to a May 28 circular released by the Ministry of Education and Sports, a total of 598 administrative and teacher staff shall be recruited in the 46 grant-aided schools fir the Financial Year 2023/24.

"Only sitting teachers in the respective grant-aided schools will be eligible for consideration following a competitive interview process upon which three graduate science and three arts graduate teachers will be selected in order of merit," the circular, signed by Dr Jane Egau Okou on behalf of the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, says.

The criteria will also apply for the three diploma (Grade V teachers) Science and two diploma arts selected.

The circular also emphasized the recruitment of English, Mathematics, History, Physics , Geography and Biology for bachelor holders and the same gazetted four slots for Fine Art, Christian Religious Education, Agriculture/Technical Drawing and Chemistry for Assistant Education officers (diploma holders).

This has angered Kiswahili teachers who say it is geared towards keeping a significant number of their graduates unemployed anywhere amidst efforts by East African states to use Swahili as a means of communication.

"According to the CHAKITAU data base, as of April 2024, there are over 2,500 qualified secondary school teachers who are unemployed in Uganda," the association deputy president Boaz Mutungi said.

"It is equally quantifiable that over 80,000 primary school teachers who studied Kiswahili as a core and professional subject in PTCs between 2013 and 2021 have never been utilised to teach Kiswahili in primary schools.

"It is unfortunate that such lukewarm implementation strategies continue to hinder actual development and promotion of Kiswahili in Uganda."

Kiswahili teachers and the association responsible for the development and promotion of Kiswahili in Uganda hold that for the review of the circular to include vacancies for Kiswahili teachers.

"We beg to draw your attention to the exclusion of Kiswahili in the forthcoming teacher recruitment exercise in the 46 grant-aided secondary schools," Dr Mutungi, speaking for CHAKITAU, said.

The umbrella organisation brings together Kiswahili associations, individual Kiswahili scholars, as well as other stakeholders and well- wishers who support or relate with the development and promotion of Kiswahili in the country.

This year's snub mirrors the scenario in 2021 when the government called for 300 teachers and 75 Kiswahili teaching staff positions but only Assistant Education Officers were hired, leaving out thousands of Kiswahili graduate teachers.

The teachers say the continued decision to overlook them suspicions about the teaching of Kiswahili as a compulsory subject in the New Lower Secondary School Curriculum implementation guidelines.

Fred Ahabyoona, a graduate Kiswahili teacher from Makerere University, said besides being excluded from government recruitment exercise, Kiswahili is not treated as a serious language and subject in Uganda.

"Despite being a widely used language in East Africa, people don't take Kiswahili as a serious subject and yet would hasten East African Community integration," Ahabyoona said.

The Kiswahili teachers note with concern that the language, which Article 6 of the Constitutuon recognises as the second official language and mandated to be taught as a compulsory subject, has been denied the due status it deserves.

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