The Prime Minister has outlined her vision for every Barbadian child speaking some level of Mandarin Chinese by 2030.
She has declared it was becoming increasingly necessary for Barbadians to have some level of competence in the main Chinese language, as she joined in celebrating the 69th anniversary of the founding of modern state of China at a cocktail reception.
“Our Government has set itself some very simple objectives by 2030, that each Barbadian child under the age of 18, among other things, should have been given the opportunity to be bilingual. While we recognize that English and Spanish are predominantly the two languages spoken predominantly in our hemisphere, we recognize that it is impossible to live in this world today without having a level of proficiency in mandarin,” said Mottley.
Her plan is to have the language taught in schools across Barbados at the primary and secondary school level, she said.
While the details are yet to be ironed out, Mottley said she would be working closely with the Chinese government to see how best that objective could be achieved.
“We have already seen a number of Barbadian students studying in China and the establishment of the Confucius Institute here is an indication that we need to be able to expand both the knowledge of language and knowledge of history of the Chinese culture. We, however, want to carry it to the next level, and by having that simple goal in 2030 it means that we need to start introducing it in our teaching at our schools at primary and secondary level, the teaching of mandarin,” she explained.
Barbadians currently learn Mandarin through the Confucius Institute at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, where just over 2,500 students have so far attended Chinese language classes.
The language is also being taught by Chinese teachers attached to the institute at four schools – primary and secondary – as part of a pilot project under a previous memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Education and China.
Mandarin Chinese is the main dialect spoken and written through the populous northern and southwestern China, with nearly one billion native speakers.