HomeInternationalColombia Introduces Swahili as Foreign Language Option in Schools, Sparks Debate

Colombia Introduces Swahili as Foreign Language Option in Schools, Sparks Debate


While the decision to introduce Swahili in Colombian schools has sparked debate, it signifies a significant step towards cultural exchange and international collaboration.

  • -By embracing Swahili, Colombia seeks to foster a deeper understanding of African heritage and strengthen ties with African nations.
  • -The implementation of this language program will play a crucial role in promoting diversity, inclusivity, and intercultural dialogue in Colombian society.

In a groundbreaking move, Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez has announced the introduction of Swahili as a foreign language option in Colombian schools.

This decision comes after Marquez’s visit to Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa, where she signed an agreement to facilitate language exchange between teachers from Colombia and African countries.

Swahili, the third most spoken language in Africa with over 200 million speakers, will be offered not only to Colombians of African origin but to anyone interested in learning the language.

Marquez emphasizes the significance of this initiative in reconnecting with ancestral roots and rebuilding historical memory.

However, this announcement has stirred strong criticism from Marquez’s right-wing opponents, setting it apart from other agreements made during her trip.

Some critics argue that English would be a more practical choice, while others point out that the majority of slaves brought to Colombia originated from West Africa, where Swahili is not commonly spoken.

Colombia’s official language is Spanish, spoken by over 99 percent of the population. Supporters of Marquez view this decision as a political move reflecting her social vision for the country.

As the first Black Colombian and second woman to hold the vice presidency, Marquez aims to address racism, classism, and promote equality across race, gender, and class.

Marquez’s African tour was also focused on strengthening South-South cooperation and forging closer ties with Kenya.

During her visit, she met with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, praising Kenya as a destination for trade and investment. Discussions were held regarding the introduction of direct chartered flights between Kenya and Colombia to facilitate trade and investment opportunities.

The meeting between Marquez and Gachagua resulted in the signing of two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between Kenya and Colombia. These MOUs aim to enhance cooperation between the two countries and emphasize gender equality and women’s empowerment.

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