(Re-)examining the standard Kiswahili alphabet in the teaching syllabus for lower secondary schools in Uganda

Keywords: Alphabet, Swahili, Syllabus aim, Syllabus content, and Uganda


Kiswahili is a foreign language (FL) in Uganda. Formally, the teaching of Kiswahili begins in the lower secondary phase. In this phase, Kiswahili had been taught for many years without an authorised syllabus. Nonetheless, in 2008, the government of Uganda launched the existing grammatical syllabus (hereafter, 2008 syllabus). It should be noted that, while the teaching of standard Kiswahili is among the aims postulated in the 2008 syllabus, information and topics regarding, for example, the alphabet of standard Kiswahili are missing in this syllabus. Pedagogically, this situation appears to contrast with, for example, the advanced scientific suggestions that the learning of the alphabet should be among the initial topics in grammatical syllabi and subsequently, in the FL classrooms’ activities. Using perspectives on document analysis to constitute its methodology, in this theoretical paper, we first provide a general overview of the grammatical syllabi as a framework for teaching and learning FLs, drawing specific examples from the 2008 syllabus. Then, we analyse the aims of teaching Kiswahili as established in the 2008 syllabus. Thereafter, we examine the alphabet of standard Kiswahili. Lastly, we propose possible procedures for adopting the Kiswahili alphabet into the 2008 syllabus, as a way of facilitating the teaching and learning of standard Kiswahili mainly in Uganda’s lower secondary schools.

Author Biographies

Caesar Jjingo, Makerere University
Dr. Caesar Jjingo is a lecturer at Makerere University. He lectures Kiswahili pedagogies in the Department of Humanities and Language Education in the School of Education.  His research foci include foreign/second/additional language pedagogies, materials development, syllabus designs and curriculum education within linguistics/grammatical/formal and task-based paradigms. His fields of interest lie in language classrooms’ pedagogical practices and emerging technologies. Emails: caesarial@gmail.com or cjjingo@cees.mak.ac.ug
Marianna Visser, Stellenbosch University
Marianna Visser is professor in the Department of African Languages at Stellenbosch University. Her main area of research is the morphosyntax of African languages and its interfaces with lexical semantics and event semantics within a broad generative approach.   In addition, she works in the field of second language learning and teaching of the African languages within Task-based language teaching theory, in the field of genre-based academic literacy development and pedagogy, focusing on academic texts in African languages, and argumentation-theoretic discourse analysis. Email: mwv@sun.ac.za