Sindh govt unveils ambitious plan to teach Mandarin

Published: September 5, 2011
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Classes to start this year at Cadet College Petaro.

Classes to start this year at Cadet College Petaro.

KARACHI: 

The official language of China, Mandarin, could become a compulsory subject across schools in Sindh from the year 2013 if all goes to plan.

Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah made this announcement on Sunday after a meeting with the education department at CM House in Karachi. As an ‘experiment’, Cadet College Petaro will become the first institution to start, with its sixth grade students this year.

Its principal, Commander Afzal Malik, told The Express Tribune that the proposal is still fledgling and they need to work out a plan. “I can only say that I would like to start it as soon as possible as China is a big neighbour and big economy and offers us great potential,” he said, when asked how it would affect students.

Teaching Mandarin in Sindh was proposed during the president’s last visit to the People’s Republic of China. “The next generation is of the Chinese,” said an official who attended the meeting. People in China are learning Urdu and it would be only beneficial for the people of Pakistan to learn Chinese, which would help get them exposure in their growing economy.

So far, only an understanding exists at the government level but soon, help will be sought from education circles in China to go ahead with the plan in Pakistan. Aside from teachers, a syllabus will have to be prepared and it will need to be approved by the bureau of curriculum policy.

The chief minister announced that as an incentive, students who complete the study of Chinese till Matric and higher classes will be given scholarships for further study. They could be rewarded with marks, international educational scholarships, international tours and training.

The question arises, however, how Sindh’s high schools will be able to teach a foreign language when it struggles to maintain standards for Sindhi, Urdu and English.

The official who attended the meeting acknowledged these challenges and said that this was why they were thinking of only implementing it as a pilot project first in 2013.

The meeting was attended by senior provincial minister for education and literacy, Pir Mazharul Haq, Salman Farooqi, education secretary Mohammad Siddiq Memon, among others.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (38)

  • Villabhai Patel
    Sep 5, 2011 - 9:19AM

    This is the right decision. We should have done that a long time ago. It should now be implemented across Pakistan. We must also teach Persian and Arabic as we did before. Because Urdu without these languages makes half sense. It will enrich our heritage and a new breed of writers and poets will born with as big or more command of the Urdu language as our ancestors. Good decision Mr. Qaim Ali Shah. Shehbaz Sharif must do the same now and others too.

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  • Sep 5, 2011 - 10:04AM

    The Thing is that though it is a nice step but just look at the burden on students! They have to take Urdu, English, Sindhi and Arabic too as compulsory subject and now you are burdening them with Chinese too!!!

    I think, we first need to preserve our own local languages before introducing foreign language in Pakistan. Has Sindh done enough to preserve Sheedi language or Thar accent of Rajasthani or Kathiyawari or Maimoni or Sindhi Gujrati or Bohri? No so what about Chinese???!!!

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  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Sep 5, 2011 - 11:32AM

    How many students have been taught English as a language so far?? What has been the success rate especially in Govt.Schools? And now Chinese??? Wow !!! Very ambitious plans. Wishing you all success Sindh Govt.!!!!

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  • maestro
    Sep 5, 2011 - 11:39AM

    A good decision but it should not be compulsory – should be available as an option in all schools. This is definitely China’s century and we are blessed to have them as good trusted friends. There should be no language barrier between Pak and China.

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  • Oscar Wilde
    Sep 5, 2011 - 11:56AM

    “Personally, I have a great admiration for stupidity.” Oscar Fingal Wilde

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  • Amadeus
    Sep 5, 2011 - 12:13PM

    The Chinese are taking over, yo!!!

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  • amjad
    Sep 5, 2011 - 12:41PM

    there’s a difference between frienship and sycophancy.

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  • woohoo
    Sep 5, 2011 - 12:45PM

    And I want to build my house with a second floor, but, without ground or first floors or even the foundation.

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  • faraz
    Sep 5, 2011 - 1:26PM

    What a ridiculous decision. Chinese are learning English and we are going to teach Mandarin.

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  • Sep 5, 2011 - 2:01PM

    Changing times.

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  • Ali Kazmi
    Sep 5, 2011 - 2:08PM

    @ Faraz
    I have been to China an many parts of China, i dont see your comment a rationale according to my experience. English is to China is like urdu is to Monkeys!

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  • mansoor
    Sep 5, 2011 - 2:40PM

    China has started to build an english speaking population base to counter challenges from India. Today lots and lots of chinese are learning english. China wale english seekhne pe lag gaye hain aur hamari government ab hamen chinese seekhne pe laga rahi hai!
    What a pity!

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  • Akbar Halim
    Sep 5, 2011 - 3:33PM

    ” … if all goes per (Beijing’s) plan.”
    Pakistan is becoming a Chinese satellite!
    Where is the ghairat brigade now?
    Maybe, they are busy taking Mandarin lessons.

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  • Sep 5, 2011 - 4:02PM

    Errr…where are the teaches going to come from? Quite ironic that in Sindh teaching Sindhi is sidelined, but learning foreign languages is promoted?

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  • mz
    Sep 5, 2011 - 4:05PM

    benefit?
    i hope that after a few years the name of the province remains sindh, rather than “sindhjiang”
    govt. school students dont know urdu even…education budget is merely Rs25b…and LOL CM wants chinese!
    had hoti hai…im love china but..keep the friendship till co-operation, not culture exchanges!

    CM…ap karachi ko sahi karne mein damagh lagaen..fazool batein chor dein…thank you

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  • Amadeus
    Sep 5, 2011 - 4:19PM

    @TightDhoti: No, its not ironic – I had to sit through stupid sindhi classes for 5-yrs and that was a total waste of time. I doubt knowledge of Sindhi ‘ever’ assisted me anywhere. Teaching of Sindhi should be sidelined, it absolutely does not serve any purpose!!!

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  • Ali
    Sep 5, 2011 - 4:21PM

    a good start!

    the whole education system needs to be overhauled!

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  • Chengez K
    Sep 5, 2011 - 4:37PM

    Aitchison College has been pioneer in teaching Chinese to its students

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  • ik
    Sep 5, 2011 - 5:28PM

    With the demise of the Arab world & the Arabic language what option does dependent Pakistan have – My advice is to first learn the English language PROPERLY.Recommend

  • Ali S
    Sep 5, 2011 - 5:52PM

    As if China cares. If we really want to improve relations with foreign countries, we should work on educating our youth – they are the ones who will go on to become our businesspeople and leaders. How about focusing on getting most kids in schools in the first place and improving the quality of the existing government education system? And this sounds like a good idea for some elite private school, but for a country where most of the population is illiterate in their native language (let alone English or even Urdu), this seems like a downright absurd and impractical idea.Recommend

  • revamp
    Sep 5, 2011 - 6:24PM

    Change the history books first..!! Teach the students who had been friendly countries and who have been made friendly countries out of convenience.

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  • Ali tanoli
    Sep 5, 2011 - 6:24PM

    Here you go people dont know urdu or english now they talk ching chong good luck.

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  • Lobster
    Sep 5, 2011 - 6:37PM

    Chinese are learning Urdu at university level, for God’s sake, have pity on poor kids.
    Who will teach it in Sindh? Punjab can do it as Ch. Shujaat already speaks Mandarin and can be hired.
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  • fahim
    Sep 5, 2011 - 7:01PM

    how many chinese are interested to learn our language? I have traveled multiple times to china and pitifully common chinese care less than negligible about pakistan. The only news they hear about us is violence. Further, in the govt circles, it seems that they consider us more like a favorable “at your service / yes sir” type of client state, which blindly follows all that they will command us to do. This is so shameful a move. As the author said “according to beijing’s plan”, and in future we will become a client subservient state of the chinese hegemony over Asia. Why are we silent when china kills thousands in Tibet, Xinjiang, mongolian borders, or illegally occupies areas around Taiwan, South China sea, Vietnam, Laos….???? I am ashamed at our servant attitude, as a taxpaying pakistani…

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  • Pundit
    Sep 5, 2011 - 7:53PM

    Teaching Mandarin is anti constitutional. I quote:

    Article 31/2 (a) of Constitution of Pakistan states:

    “The State shall endeavor, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan to make the teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamiat compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language.”

    Not having completed the Arabic teaching universal mandarin cannot be introduced.

    CJ is requested to take this up suo moto.

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  • Sep 5, 2011 - 8:34PM

    What next, make Mandarin the state language and eat noodles with tofu and crispy duck for breakfast?

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  • Dr.Who!
    Sep 5, 2011 - 9:01PM

    In Russia, children are taught Russian first.
    In England, children are taught? You got it; English.
    In France? Take a guess!
    In Italy?…Right again, Italian!

    And in multi linguistic countries?
    Well, in Indian Gujrat? Gujrati, right?
    In Maharashtra? Marhati, what else? Agree?
    So on and on….

    But in Sindh……….drum roll…..
    Any other language…..BUT Sindhi.
    Genius!

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  • amjad
    Sep 5, 2011 - 9:06PM

    It is a good idea, but to make it compulsory, is an unnecessory burden on the resources and the students. To make education beneficial for the society, the country need to look into ways to produce educated people, who just don’t have a diploma or a degree, but are highly skilled in whatever area they are in. It means, highly specialized education for all from primary level, based on their interests and leanings. Produce, the best plumbers, carpenters, electricians, linguists, historians, geolo0gists,doctors and engineers, etc. etc. Just, do not waste limited resources on absurd experiments. Come up with a plan, bottom-up for the twentyfirst century, if not, do not tinker. Recommend

  • Dr.Who!
    Sep 5, 2011 - 9:08PM

    Hare would be offended if this plan is called Harebrained.

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  • Dr.Who!
    Sep 5, 2011 - 9:22PM

    @Pundit:
    A “Pundit” advancing Arabic language?
    A sign of End Times indeed;)

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  • Colorado NRI
    Sep 5, 2011 - 11:07PM

    Once upon a time, colonization was forced upon the subcontinent by Imperialist powers. Now, one of those former colonies is rolling out the red carpet and asking to be adopted. Take our land, run our port, we’ll learn your language.

    It is as if a freed inmate wants to return to his familiar prison cell after a day of wandering the streets. Unreal.

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  • Just a word
    Sep 5, 2011 - 11:46PM

    Order of priority should be:
    1.Proficiency in English
    2.Urdu
    3.Chinese (optional) with scholarship.
    4.Any other language (optional with scholarship)

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  • huss
    Sep 6, 2011 - 3:05AM

    easily accessible foreign language centers would do the job

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  • Radial
    Sep 6, 2011 - 5:07AM

    This is great news except that the Sindh government has no way of actually making it happen, which makes me suspect that Pir Mazhar and some others are cooking up some kind of get-rich scam. Chinese is a difficult language and for non-native speakers, any reasonable level of fluency requires more than 4 years of Full-Time study, not just treating it as one of many subjects. Since the Sindh government has not figured out how to adequately teach English, Urdu, or Sindhi to students in government schools, I have no clue as to how they plan to teach Chinese. I also don’t see thousands of Chinese teachers flying in and happily moving to interior Sindh to work at the government’s ghost schools. So, what’s the plan, Pir Mazhar?

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  • D'maagh
    Sep 6, 2011 - 10:30AM

    If we had made Arabic the national language, it would have resolved a lot of issues and divisions in the country. Plus, people would have been able to read the Qur’an in its native language and understand the religion in the true way the way it’s intended. Urdu is a distraction in my humble opinion and can be restricted to an optional subject for Mohajirs, just like we can have Punjabi or Sindhi. This would have made the teaching of other languages like English and Mandarin also feasible as the burden on students would be reduced.

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  • Brainy
    Sep 6, 2011 - 1:02PM

    In todays practical world no language can supercede English. So English first and should be mandatory, then comes Urdu the mother tongue and National language of Pakistan. Urdu language is mandatory national language per the consitution of Pakistan and is the language of unity. Chinese may be a great idea and it can follow.

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  • Maria
    Sep 6, 2011 - 2:27PM

    More natural and logical step would have been to make the Sindhi language compulsory in Sindh first, and then any other language. This would have created harmony and attachment with the soil amongst the diverse population of the hospitable Sindh.

    The same PPP government has rejected Sindhi as a national language of Sindh. Even they could not implement learning Sindhi as compulsory to work and get education in Sindh.

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  • yaqoot mir
    Sep 6, 2011 - 8:28PM

    Good decision, a lot of readers here think this is a burden on students? how is learning English not a burden on the same students? sich matters always have tubulent starts, incentives for learning the language now will pay dividends once an entire generation grown up knowing the Chinese language. Alarmists in our country who think this will a source of a cultural invasion from China are pretty much silent when the assault by english is behind us? look what it has done for us? integration into world economies makes English a must but the world economic mecca is rapidly shifting from the US and UK and its allies to a NEW ASIAN EPICENTER which includes China as the nucleus and India as a major sattelite….luck for us we understand 80% of the indian language since their language is mixed with OURS THANKS TO THE MUGHALS, but Chinese is also a must!.

    People also talked about figuring out who are real allies are. well to them I only have 2 wrods, watch USA, a true fairweather freind only, China on the other hand has tons to show for its UN CONDITIONAL support to Pakistan and we thank them dearly for it, Long live this freindship and I am proud that ZAB made such a far reacing and visionary decision to ALLIGN Pakistan with China after the 1971 tragedy, as he said “NEVER AGAIN SHALL WE COME UP SHORT” this is it.

    China is a true freind not only in deed but in need UNLIKE the West. RIght decision and I have to say despite not being a fan of MR Zardari I DO AGREE with this one 100%. Hope Punjab follows as quickly as posisble along with KP and teh Baloch!Recommend

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