Learn Chinese in Tanzania: Tanzanian Schools Begin Teaching Chinese
Back in July (see post on July 5th), I shared that Zimbabwe was set to adopt the Chinese currency as its official currency. Well, I guess it was only a matter of time before another African country followed suit and adopted a piece of China’s heritage, given the breadth of the country’s presence in Africa.
Now on to the story.
Some Tanzanian schools now offer Chinese courses designed to teach Tanzanian students the Chinese language and culture. The courses are being offered in six secondary schools (or high schools) and three universities nationwide and the programme has the support of both the Tanzanian and Chinese governments. The Chinese language is being taught as an optional subject at primary and secondary schools in the country and covers Basic Chinese language, Chinese listening skills, oral Chinese skills, Chinese songs, Taiji course (no idea what this is), Chinese calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting.
One of the universities, University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), also offers a Diploma in Chinese language geared towards preparing local teachers to teach the language in primary and secondary schools. This course should be available in the 2016/2017 academic year. In the near future, UDSM also intends to offer undergraduate courses in Chinese language and the four year course will be jointly offered by UDSM and Zhejiang University in China. As part of the course, students will split their studies halfway between UDSM in Tanzania and Zhejiang University in China. There are also scholarships for interested students.
As of now, about 5,236 Tanzanians are learning the Chinese language at different levels in higher learning institutions. The hope is that this count of students will rise as time goes on.
My initial thought after reading this story was colonialism (or to be more precise, neocolonialism) and how Africans have a habit of adopting other cultures; of trying to be like others. It’s as though we’re programmed to take on the identity of whomever we’re dating similar to how a guy or gal can take on the identity of their sweetheart completely forgetting (or ignoring) their own beliefs, values and identity.
However after taking a deep breath and letting the story sink in, it occurred to me that there could be something positive in this. Tanzanian students who are able to speak the Chinese language and successfully navigate the Chinese culture can tap into knowledge and skills from the Asian nation’s technological success and bring it home to Tanzania. This knowledge transfer would be nothing different from Chinese students (and students from other parts of the world, including Africa) learning English, schooling in America and gaining knowledge which they then transfer to their local communities back home (home being their respective countries).
My hope is that it’s the latter objective that’s achieved (and not the former). Hopefully Tanzania adopts enough of the Chinese culture to propel its development and not too much that it loses itself. For what the true outcome will be, we’ll just have to wait and see.