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Teaching of Chinese Language (Mandarin), Is there any harm in making it second language? Birendra P Mishra

By Birendra P Mishra . Our ethos is based on the saying in Sanskrtit, “Education delivers humility (Vinayam), humility gives ability or deserving capacity (Patrata) from which wealth (Dhana) is obtained and wealth brings righteousness or dutifulness (Dharma) which ultimately leads to happiness (Sukha). Thus, education is supposed develop a mental frame or mind set that is needed by an individual in his day- to-day life .It also differentiates human being from other animals as education sharpens human intellect or reason.. Of course, it ultimately leads to happiness, a state of mind that is achieved through satisfaction after meeting the needs and aspirations in life. But before getting happiness it is obligatory to change human mind to receive what it deserves

The watchword of the present government: “ Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali.” is well known. In this context, it is asked: can a Nepali be happy as migrant worker labouring in gulf countries in fifty-degree Celsius temperature or in Malaysia? Can this country sustain its economy and develop on remittance by migrant workers? It seems that the prime objective of the government is to make our youths capable of working in other countries like Korea, Japan and others. Very recently, it was reported that thousands of youths have passed at the Korean language test. Interestingly, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is developing a curriculum in which different languages like Chinese, Korean Arabian and Hindi will be taught.

It was reported on 7 December,2018 in the English daily The Week(Republica) that the Minister for Education, Science and Technology said that the government was preparing to include the Chinese language in school curriculum. The Minster said, “It is a need of time. If we can teach English, why can’t we teach Chinese?” He further explained, “We are yet to think about mainstreaming the Chinese language in school education. However, we can also teach Chinese under the Technical Education and Vocational Training and also Arabic, Korean and Hindi languages as many Nepalese go to work in India, Korea and Arabian countries.” The Minister asserted that preparations for curriculum development are underway. The government took the initiative in this direction after some students who returned from China after learning the Chinese language recommended it to include it in the school education.

 Significantly, the process of introducing the teaching of Mandarin in Nepal has begun long back. In this connection, I had humbly drawn the attention of the reader through Republica, the English daily on 11 August 2014 that Mandarin is being introduced silently in private schools from the primary level taxing the growing minds of the country. It is not known whether all these are being done under the permission of the government or not.

An English daily, through its front headline on 15 June 2019, has carried the news that Mandarin has been made mandatory in many schools. The reporter has taken the comments from many schools, which justify the step. It is an open secret that many schools have been lured to introduce the Chinese language through the Chinese volunteers, perhaps deputed by the Chinese government, by getting personal favour, like pleasure cum educational trips of principals and owners to China to oblige them to accept the Chinese offers.

Nepal is in need of foreign investments for its rapid development. Nepal has accepted ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ propounded by China. Nepalese people are eager to travel in China made trains from Kerung to Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini. Kathmauites may have elevated electric trains. China has the capacity to build Nepal in no time, if it is allowed to do so, as it has done marvelously in Tibet.

Over and above, China has been very generous to extend scholarship not only to the Nepalese students but also to the government staff to enhance their abilities. Currently, it has offered more than 850 training programmes to civil servants. And it may increase the number of seats in the future. Hardly, any country can match China in this regard. India and other countries have been left behind.

To enable China to extend its additional support to Nepal for its fast growth, Nepal should think of making Mandarin  the second national language. More and more students will prefer to go to China and acquire higher education. It may encourage China to pay more active role in making Nepal a prosperous Nepal and every Nepali happy. All projects under BRI may be completed under Chinese grant and Nepal will not need to spend any amount nor any effort for its development. Side by side, it will be in line with Nepal’s original stand not to allow Hindi as the second language, which was thrown out of the school syllabus long back as it was regarded, a competitor not only to Nepali language but also to Maithili, Bajjika, Bhojapuri and Awadhi. Hence, to make Mandarin a second language will be quite appropriate from the perspective of development and also from traditional Kathmandu elite’s thinking to keep India (through Hindi) at bay and eliminate  all chances of economic blockade in the future as well.

Dr.Birendra P Mishra, former election commissioner of Nepal

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