Teach children Kiswahili as first language, teachers urge parents

Chile Ambassador to Kenya Alejandra Guerra presents Chilean poet booklets translated in Kiswahili to Olekasasi Primary School Deputy Headteacher Domitila Kalondu as pupils hold the booklets with their Senior teacher Wanjiru Gatonye (right) on 30th August 2023 [David Gichuru, Standard]

Teachers have urged parents to use Kiswahili at home as the first language for their kids to help them master the language well.

Evans Okisai, a Kiswahili teacher from Ongata Royal Academy from Kajiado County, urged the parents to be at the forefront in promoting the Kiswahili language.

He said this will also motivate their children to use Kiswahili when communicating to make them conversant with the language.

This, Okisai said, will also make it easy for teachers in school when teaching children.

“Kiswahili should start from home because it is our first language but parents are not teaching their kids Kiswahili instead English is the one considered as first language by most parents,” he stated.

Okisai highlighted that they are encountering challenges in teaching Kiswahili to pupils in school because kids are more conversant with English language.

He said this makes it hard for children to construct a well-structured Swahili sentence, as will always mix it up with an English word.

Okisai was speaking during booklet distribution on Wednesday in Rongai, Kajiado County.

Teachers also urged the government and concerned bodies to take Kiswahili seriously, enlightening the public on the same and encouraging them to use Kiswahili more often in their communication, both individuals and politicians.

“I highly appreciate politicians for using Kiswahili while giving their speeches and this is a good example, let us promote the Swahili culture all over,” he said.

Chile ambassador, Alejandra Guerra, encouraged the teaching of different cultures to children.

“Keep culture to children, I think it is important to give our children a chance to learn more cultures, let them learn a culture that is different from theirs,” Guerra said.

She spoke after distributing Kiswahili books to local primary schools.

“We have given these books to more than 40 schools in the country, and also in Nairobi including the slums. We are hoping to reach out to as many schools as we can,” she said.

Mashairi ya Watoto was among the Swahili books that she delivered to pupils across the schools.

She said the book has good stories and poems that will make pupils like and understand the language better.

“The book Mashairi ya watoto was translated by a Chilean poet called Gabriela Mistral who became the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for literature in the year 1945,” she said.

She also promised support to vulnerable African schools because education is one of their important and valued agenda.

Victor Mutuma a fundraiser at Orione Community Training Centre in Rongai, urged the public to to help them raise funds to run the institution.

“Right now we have 65 children in our institution, but the number is swelling,” Mutuma said.

Orione Community Training Centre head teacher and speech therapist Regina Mbugua called out parents who have children with mental conditions and syndromes not to hide them at home.

Instead, she asked parents to bring them on board because there are institutions that offer special services to them.

At our institution we major in special education to children with conditions like autism, down syndrome and cerebral palsy where we offer special education to them,” she said.