A Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) has been signed for the Government of China to help embed the learning and teaching of Chinese mandarin, as a foreign language, into Vanuatu’s primary and secondary education system.
Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu, Zhou Haicheng, and the Minister of Education, Samson Samsen, signed the agreement in the presence of senior officials from the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) and the Chinese Embassy.
Under the MOU, China will send experts to Vanuatu to coordinate and assist in developing policy documents and frameworks, such as the curriculum, syllabus and testing schemes for the joint program, said Ambassador Zhou.
“We will bring Chinese language courses to young children, train a large number of people who can speak Chinese and understand China,” he said.
The program will build a pool of Chinese language teachers, and develop Chinese language textbooks and learning materials, he said.
According to Ambassador Zhou, both Vanuatu and China will monitor and evaluate the teaching performance of the program, encourage educational and academic institutions from both countries to conduct theoretical and applied research, and hold academic conferences on topics related to the program.
“The signing of this MOU will further solidify popular support for the development of China-Vanuatu relations and create tremendous opportunities for the younger generations of Vanuatu,” he said.
“It will broaden the prospects for China-Vanuatu educational exchanges and cooperation.”
Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world and China is one of the world’s largest economic powerhouse.
The world demand for Chinese learning has been increasing in recent years.
As of 2020, over 20 million people out of China were learning Chinese language and over 70 countries had included Chinese language education into their national education systems, Ambassador Zhou conveyed.
The Minister of Education and the Director General (DG) of the MoET, Bergsman Iati, said the program will enable Vanuatu children to be able to connect to the rest of the world and also, being bilingual can open career opportunities.
DG Iati said teaching Mandarin is not compulsory however, schools that want to benefit from the joint program should inform the MoET.
Some schools in Vanuatu, which includes the University of the South Pacific (USP) have already been teaching Chinese language.
Mandarin was the first foreign language to be taught in Vanuatu schools in 2019.