Outcry greets Chinese lesson plans

HARARE - Observers have slammed Robert Mugabe's "Look East" policy, which is now threatening to see the introduction of the Chinese language Mandarin in universities. These plans were recently announced by Stan Mudenge, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, who revealed that a bilateral agreeme

nt was underway with the Chinese government to exchange programmes including language training. It’s reported that people at universities, especially the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), are sceptical about this as it is common knowledge that the government does not have enough money to start putting together a Chinese curriculum. Mudenge said the government planned to offer a Chinese language curriculum to students from all universities in the country in a bid to promote tourism and trade between the two countries. Political analyst and UZ lecturer John Makumbe said the government should be concentrating on promoting local languages first before importing other languages. “It would be wonderful to learn Ndebele, Nyanja, Swahili. Why learn Chinese when we don’t even speak our own African languages?” Mudenge revealed that he had already held meetings aimed at making the plans a reality. He said: “At a recent meeting I held in Paris with my counterpart the Chinese minister of education, we agreed to intensify our programmes. The compelling need to bring our two peoples together could be strengthened by introducing studies e.g. teaching of Chinese as a foreign language as well as learning Chinese history. Our universities have an important role in this regard.” Mudenge reportedly ordered vice chancellors from various universities to make frantic efforts to introduce the subject before year-end. Makumbe said this was a clear indication of a sick mind as it is not feasible given the poor resources in the country’s tertiary institutions. Furthermore, he said. “It takes at least six months to recruit a lecturer and for Mudenge to say we will introduce this curriculum in February is a clear indication that the man is more unwell than we imagined.” – SW Radio Africa

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