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CPEC brings growing demand for Mandarin courses in Pakistan

KHURSHID AHMED | Published — Sunday 3 December 2017


Students listening to a Mandarin instructor in a classroom at the Confucius Institute, University of Karachi. (AN photo)

Exterior of religious school that teaches Mandarin. (AN photo)

Exterior of Confucius Institute at University of Karachi. (AN photo)

Exterior of Confucius Institute at University of Karachi. (AN photo)

Liaquat Ali Jamro, director of academics and training at the Sindh Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (STEVTA), explains the Sindh government’s plan to train Mandarin teachers. (AN photo)

Jawad Madani poses for a photograph at the Jamia Sattaria Islamia. (AN photo)



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KARACHI: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is leading to large numbers of Pakistanis learning Mandarin, the official language of China, with at least five religious seminaries in Karachi offering courses.
“People are willing to offer high salaries to anyone who knows Mandarin,” Jawad Madani, who runs the Jamia Sattaria Islamia religious school, told Arab News.
Unlike other religious institutes, Madani’s views languages as a medium of communication rather than a tool of cultural invasion.
“We started teaching Mandarin about two years ago. Initially, we enrolled students once or twice a year,” he said.
“But demand has increased to a level that we’ve almost started admitting new students on a monthly basis.”
The University of Karachi has established the Confucius Institute, which has nearly 400 students and employs several Chinese instructors.
The provincial government of Sindh has gone one step further by introducing a teachers’ training program.
“We plan to train about 200 teachers of Mandarin within a year,” said Liaquat Ali Jamro, one of the directors at the province’s vocational training authority. “These teachers will then be deployed in 12 regional centers.”
Jamro said the provincial authorities want to take this program to all major districts of Sindh. “It’s a demand-driven phenomenon,” he added.
“The idea is to harness the financial potential of CPEC and help our people benefit from the project.”
Given the growing number of people who are eager to learn Mandarin, many private entities have also decided to enter the burgeoning business.
“Initially the number of students was in the hundreds, but the situation has changed and thousands of people are looking for admissions,” said Madani.
“There are also several businesses that have reached out to us. Many of them are even willing to hire our students who are still at the beginner’s level.”
For most of the students, money is the main motivation, 30-year-old Usman Hanif told Arab News. This realization led him to enroll in the Confucius Institute.
Hanif said he could find a lucrative job not only in Pakistan but anywhere in the region, since China’s One Belt One Road is an international initiative.
Some experts in Urdu, Pakistan’s national language, have welcomed this trend and describe it as a necessary part of cultural diffusion.
“This will not entail drastic consequences for our language,” said poet and linguist Sehar Ansari.
“We should learn the Chinese language since that will introduce us to people who speak that language and open new avenues of success


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