The role of the English language in the context of national development vision 2025 with specific reference to agriculture in Tanzania

  • S.T.A. Mafu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


After thirty years of vacillation, the Tanzanian government has made a firm decision to Swahilize its secondary education system. It has also embarked on an ambitious economic and social development programme (Vision 2025) to transform its peasant society into a modern agricultural community. However, there is a faction in Tanzania opposed to Kiswahili as the medium of education. Already many members of the middle and upper class their children to English medium primary schools to avoid the Kiswahili medium public schools and to prepare their children for the English medium secondary system presently in place. Within the education system, particularly at university level, there is a desire to maintain English as the medium of education. English is seen to provide access to the international scientific community, to cutting edge technology and to the global economy. My interest in this conflict of interests stems from several years' experience teaching English to students at Sokoine University of Agriculture. Students specialise in agriculture and are expected to work with the peasant population on graduation. The students experience difficulties studying in English and then find their Kiswahili skills insufficient to explain to farmers the new techniques and technologies that they have studied in English. They are hampered by a complex triglossic situation in which they use their mother tongue with family and friends, Kiswahili, the national language for early education and most public communication within Tanzania, and English for advanced studies. My aim in this thesis was - to study the language policy in Tanzania and see how it is understood and implemented; - to examine the attitudes towards the various languages and their various roles; - to investigate actual language behaviour in Tanzanian higher education. My conclusion is that the dysfunctionality of the present study has to be addressed. Diglossic public life in Tanzania has to be accommodated. The only solution appears to be a compromise, namely a bilingual education system which supports from all cases of society by using Kiswahili, together with an early introduction of English and its promotion as a privileged foreign language, so that Tanzania can continue to develop internally through Kiswahili and at the same time retain access to the globalising world through the medium of English.
Date of AwardMay 2001
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorSue Wright (Supervisor)


  • English language
  • national development vision 2025
  • agriculture in Tanzania

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