Kiswahili to be taught in South African schools as an optional language

It will be the first African language, from outside South Africa, to be offered at schools.


Motshekga said the introduction of Kiswahili in South African schools will help to promote social cohesion amongst Africans.

“It was used as a trading language and a means of inter-ethnic communication long before the coming of Europeans in Africa. It is expanding to countries that never spoke it and has the power to bring Africans together,” said the minister.

French, German and Mandarin are among foreign languages already offered in South African schools as optional subjects.

100 million speakers

Kiswahili is a Bantu language with lexical and linguistic similarities with many African languages spoken on the continent.

It is the third most spoken language, with more than 100 million speakers in Africa after English and Arabic.

Last month, South Africa’s radical opposition leader Julius Malema hinted at adopting Kiswahili as a common language in Africa as parts of efforts to "decolonise" the continent.


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