Some schools in Bulawayo are set to introduce Chinese language, Mandarin, as a subject.
Montrose High School and Nkulumane High School are at the finalisation stage of this introduction. This will make them the first government schools to teach the language.
The schools are expected to start teaching Mandarin at the beginning of next year.
A school head in one of the schools, who could not be named as she was not cleared to talk to the press said they were also working with the University of Zimbabwe towards introducing Mandarin.
“We expect the technical team to be here by the end of the month. But the plan is that we start teaching the language starting next year,” said the head.
Primary and Secondary Education Ministry’s director of communication and advocacy Mr Taungana Ndoro said several schools in the country have adopted the teaching of the Chinese language as part of the four foreign languages being taught in the country.
“Proper language learning means learning of the four basic skills which are listening, speaking, reading and writing. Language in the Zimbabwe curriculum comprises 14 indigenous languages, English, Sign and Foreign languages: Chinese, Portuguese, Swahili and French.”
Primary and Secondary Education Permanent Secretary Mrs Tumisang Thabela said the teaching of Mandarin is more pronounced at private schools at the moment.
She said those who learn foreign languages are likely to get more opportunities in the global village where nations trade more.
Mrs Thabela said Government is training pupils that can compete on a global stage.
“Currently I can say it’s mainly private actors who can afford to pay extra teachers to give them foreign languages. In the public system we still do not have much of that,” said Mrs Thabela.
“Today’s child has to be given skills to live anywhere and thrive anywhere. The Chinese economy is one of the strongest currently. So, Mandarin comes in because trade is now much alive to goods and products. Most of our goods in our houses have a lot of Chinese that we cannot read and they have a lot of wrong translations,” said Mrs Thabela.
“So, for those children who are looking beyond Zimbabwe, beyond their boundary Mandarin becomes one of the options. Definitely it will give them an edge.”
Lupane State University (LSU) senior lecturer in the Languages Department Dr Busani Maseko said the teaching of Chinese language is an acknowledgement of the global influence of China.
He said going forward, Chinese Mandarin will be a language of opportunity.
“It’s not just the spread of the Chinese language but the spread of the influence of its speakers. The Chinese influence is increasing not just in Zimbabwe but in Africa in general, South America among other continents. China is fast becoming a global power house and its language is spreading just like How the English language spread,” he said.
“English language spread not because it was a powerful language but because it was spoken by the globally powerful economies, for example the United States of America and the United Kingdom.”