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Learning Mandarin key for deepening Kenya-China relationship

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-05-26 20:50

Telema Njoki (right), the overall winner for the 16th Bridge-Chinese Proficiency competition, holds gifts in a photo shoot with Tang Jianjun, the counselor at the Chinese embassy in Kenya. [Photo by Edith Mutethya/chinadaily.com.cn]

Kenyan and Chinese experts have applauded the Kenyan government for including Mandarin among the optional foreign languages to be taught in the Competence Based Curriculum.

They said learning the Chinese language and culture is key in deepening Sino-Kenya relationships.

Andrew Too, technical assistant at the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority, said Mandarin is a language of the future, noting that it's the second most widely spoken language globally.

Too said studying Chinese culture and language presents numerous opportunities for students, including pursuing further studies in China.

Susan Mutune, the assistant director of radio and media at the Kenya Institute of curriculum Development, said holding proficiency in the Chinese language will help students to understand more about China as well as enhance the cultural and economic ties between the two countries.

In response to the growing market demand for Chinese speaking professionals, Kenyatta University came up with a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Language and Culture, whose first intake will be in September.

Mutune said the course will help address the current shortage of Chinese teachers required to teach in the 35,000 secondary schools in Kenya.

Tang Jianjun, the counselor at the Chinese embassy in Kenya, said being equipped with Chinese language skills and culture will help students to understand China better and enhance friendship between the two countries

"I hope that more Kenyans will learn the Chinese language and culture so that many people can share the joy of cross-cultural communication and dividends brought by China's economic boom," he said.

The experts and officials spoke at the 16th Bridge-Chinese Proficiency competition for foreign secondary school students held at Kenyatta University and hosted by the Confucius Institute and the university.

Ten contestants from seven secondary schools competed in a three-minute speech on Chinese language, prowess in Chinese culture and China’s national knowledge.

The overall winner, Telema Njoki, a grade seven student from Sukari Presbyterian Junior Secondary School in Nairobi, will benefit from a sponsored trip to China, in addition to having received gifts and a certificate.

Professor Calorine Thoruwa, the acting deputy vice-chancellor of research innovation and outreach at Kenyatta University, said the bridge competition links students to the world and exposes them to life changing opportunities within the China-Kenya collaboration programs in education.

She said that, in addition to promoting Chinese language and culture, the competition enhances mutual understanding and friendship between China and Kenya.

Thoruwa thanked the Chinese embassy in Kenya for supporting the teaching of Chinese language and culture, noting that it's crucial in empowering and equipping the younger generation with skills to compete globally, transform Kenyan society and foster amicable relationship between the two countries.

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