Tanzania drops English as language of instruction in schools

Tanzanian schools to teach through Swahili

Tanzania is to replace English with Swahili as the language of instruction in the country’s schools, as part of a major shake-up of its primary and secondary education system.

The historic shift away from English is a central plank of the National Vision 2025 policy launched recently by Tanzania's president Jakaya Kikwete. The new education system will see basic education extended from seven years to 11 years, with free education provided at primary and education levels as well as the abolishment of national examinations for primary school leavers.

English will remain on the curriculum but will no longer be the language used by teachers to teach other subjects. Tanzania's education ministry acknowledges that the process will take decades, saying that extensive preparations were necessary before the phasing out of English as the language of instruction.

There are over 120 languages spoken in Tanzania although there is no one language spoken natively by a majority. The country's two working languages are Swahili and English.