From loans, infrastructure to learning mandarin, Kenya is getting cozier with China

Kenya is preparing its students to compete for jobs with the Chinese as well as facilitate more trade and connections with the Citizens of the People’s Republic of China. Come 2020, Kenya will start teaching Mandarin to its elementary school students in a bid to improve job competitiveness and facilitate better trade and connection with China.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Julius Jwan, “the design, scope and sequence of the mandarin syllabus have already been completed.” Jwan who spoke to Xinhua in the country’s capital, Nairobi, also stated that though the syllabus has been completed, it will be rolled out in 2020. “Beginning 2020, we will commence teaching Mandarin as a foreign language from grade four for pupils who wish to learn the Asian language,” Jwan said.

The reason for introducing the Chinese language to primary school pupils from grade four (aged 10) and above, according to Jwan is because Mandarin is gaining global traction, and given the deepening political and economic ties between Kenya and China, it is important that Kenyans are grounded in the language—especially if the East African country cannot repay its loans to the Asian country and it loses its port among others in the process.

“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 noted.

Mandarin will be taught alongside Kenya’s local languages and foreign languages like French, Arabic and German. It will also be a part of the Competency-Based Curriculum that the country is planning to roll out this year. Competency-based learning refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating that they have acquired the knowledge and skills needed as they progress through their education.

Over the years, China has become one of the biggest African trade partners. The Asian country has invested cash and infrastructural projects into the African continent and Kenya has borrowed a lot that the China Africa Research Initiative ranked Kenya as the third country in Africa with the highest level of indebtedness to China between 2000 and 2017.

“In bilateral debt category, the stock of debt from the People’s Republic of China grew by 52.8 percent to Sh478.6 billion ($4.70 trillion), accounting for 12.1 percent of the total national government’s debt position,” Kenya National Bureau of Statistics 2018 Economic Survey reveals.

Kenyans learning and speaking Mandarin is beneficial to Kenyans as it is to the Chinese, who would be employed to teach the pupils (and teachers).