Government has agreed to promote Mandarin in Nepali schools and not everyone seems pleasedParents’ group says the government should not foist the language course on children.
The Ministry of Education signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Embassy in Nepal on Volunteer Chinese Teachers' Programme in Nepal during the visit of Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi last month. The deal is aimed at gradually expanding Mandarin language classes in public schools in the country.
As per the agreement, 100 volunteer teachers from China will be assigned to teach Mandarin, the official Chinese language, in public schools in the first phase, according to Mahesh Dahal, secretary at the ministry.
Around 85 private and public schools are offering Chinese language course to their students at present.
A month after the agreement on the volunteer programme, Nepal and China governments on Sunday agreed to set up Confucius Institute in Tribhuvan University. There is already one Confucious Institute in Kathmandu University, established in partnership with the Hebei University of Economics and Business, China.
“While the institute in Kathmandu University only offers classes for Mandarin, the one in Tribhuvan University will be more than that,” Dahal told the Post.
He said the proposed institute, which is likely to come into operation within a year, would work as a centre to test the proficiency in Mandarin and produce teachers for the volunteer programme.
Besides, the institute will also provide Nepali language course for Chinese students.
“It will also function as a research centre for language and culture,” said Dahal. “The Chinese government will bear the entire cost for the establishment and operation of the institute in the initial phase. The long-term funding modality for the institute will be determined once it comes into function.”
Private school operators, who are running Chinese language classes, say the establishment of the institute is an excellent initiative by the government in promoting the language of the country which is in the race to become an economic superpower. They say the availability of human and other resources will increase once the institute starts running the classes.
“Those who excel in Mandarin are sure to get better opportunities in the future. We have to prepare a new generation with future in mind,” Shiva Raj Pant, chairman of the Board of Trustee in Learning Realm International School, Kalanki, told the Post.
The school is one of the first to start Mandarin classes for school students.
However, not all buy that argument.
Some private schools operators say having command in Mandarin could be a plus for those aspiring to work in the tourism sector, but there are minimal opportunities in other sectors.
“I don’t believe knowing Mandarin opens the doors of opportunities,” Ritu Raj Sapkota, president of National Private and Boarding Schools Association Nepal, told the Post.
Parents are also are not pleased with the government’s decision to teach Mandarin in schools. They say the government should not be foist any language course on children.
“I believe enforcing Mandarin is a political decision,” Suprabhat Bhandari, president of Guardian Association Nepal, told the Post. “The government must have done homework before taking the decision. What if other countries, say India, propose to providing volunteers to teach their languages as well?”
He said it is surprising to see that the government that is reluctant to promote education in the mother tongue, something which is enshrined in the constitution, is working proactively to promote an international language.