Just weeks after Uganda said that it will introduce Chinese in secondary schools, Kenya has announced that it will start teaching the subject in 2020.
According to Julius Jwan, the CEO Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), told Chinese news outlet, Xinhua, they have completed the design, scope and sequence of the mandarin syllabus.
“Beginning 2020, we will commence teaching Mandarin as a foreign language from grade four for pupils who wish to learn the Asian language,” he said.
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The language will be added to others such as French, German and Arabic once the new Competency Based Curriculum is rolled out.
According to the CEO, Mandarin was included in the curriculum because it is one of the most spoken languages in the world. The justification is that it will improve job competitiveness and facilitate better trade and connection with China.
“The place of China in the world economy has also grown to be so strong that Kenya stands to benefit if its citizens can understand Mandarin,” Jwan said.
A similar announcement was made in 2015, with the program aimed to start by 2018 but it fell through. Two universities in Kenya are already offering courses in Chinese
Kenya is the third known country to introduce the language. Uganda has made the language compulsory for first and second year students and optional for seniors in secondary schools across the country.
South Africa started teaching the language in 2016, amid complaints and criticism across the country. The program was set to be incremental starting from Grades 4-9 and 10 will be implemented in 2016, followed by grade 11 in 2017 and grade 12 in 2018, according to the circular on the subject.