New dictionary to facilitate cohesion in East African nations

Friday May 19 2017

Oxford Primary Dictionary for East Africa

Kennedy Nyambati, a director in the ministry of East African Affairs and Commerce, and Oxford University Press East Africa general manager John Mwazemba unveil the Oxford Primary Dictionary for East Africa at Sarova Stanley hotel in Nairobi on May 18, 2017. PHOTO | CHARLES KAMAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Learners will now have a dictionary that not only explains the meaning of words but also helps users to learn how to communicate effectively and recognise their culture.

This follows yesterday's launch of the Oxford Primary Dictionary for Eastern Africa, considered a milestone in the learning and teaching of the English language in primary schools in the country and the region.

The third edition of the Oxford dictionary has additional headwords of frequently used words such as githeri, tuktuk, boda boda and kitenge and 600 illustrations that reflect the people, environment and the culture of East Africa.


Speaking during the unveiling, Oxford University Press East Africa general manager John Mwazemba hailed the dictionary as a significant development in the promotion of proper language usage.

"This dictionary is child-friendly, with shorter entries, written in simpler language and larger text size, making it an ideal dictionary for all primary school pupils.

"This dictionary is therefore pitched to take care of the changing vocabulary needs on contemporary learners in East Africa," Mr Mwazemba said.


Kennedy Nyambati, a deputy director for regional integration in the Ministry of East African Affairs and Commerce, commended Oxford University Press for developing a resource that would enhance integration in the region.

Mr Nyambati said language continues to play a pivotal role in globalisation.

"By publishing a dictionary that can be used by children in all East African primary schools, you have demonstrated the importance of collaboration in developing learning materials that are regionally accepted by all learners," he said.

He urged Kenyans to embrace reformed education programmes contained in the new education curriculum in order to meet new technical and business demands.

"East Africa is becoming a common education space, and the importance education plays in shaping our society has been clear to us.

"The mutual recognition of education systems in the region has given us a renewed commitment to realise common goals and aspirations of the people of East Africa through a harmonized curriculum."

John Sibi-Okumu, a media consultant, said the dictionary will be a useful instrument in advancing the language.

It has over 17,000 words and phrases, including new words such as app, emoticon and tablet.

It also has 11,000 examples of how various words are used in their contexts and a 24-page study section to help students in preparing for examinations.