As relations between China and many African countries strengthen, a Mandarin learning is booming all over the continent.
In Rwanda, Chinese languages are gaining prominence as business and economic relations between the two countries grow. Mandarin is viewed as a practical language, invaluable for boosting business ties.
The Confucius Institute in Kingali, Rwanda’s capital, has become a central hub for Chinese language studies in the country. Students are offered the opportunity to compete for scholarships to study in China, with many returning to Rwanda to continue their careers as language teachers.
Last month, Kingali hosted the East African Community (EAC) symposium on Chinese language education to discuss the development of cultural ties between the two countries and how it impacts Chinese language education across East Africa.
The one-day event was organized by the College of Liberal Arts at Chongqing Normal University, in partnership with the Confucius Institute at the University of Rwanda and united Rwandan government officials and scholars, as well as education professionals from Rwanda, China and the East African region.
Florien Nsanganwimana, principal of the University of Rwanda’s College of Education said at the event “The purpose of this symposium is to take Chinese language education in Rwanda to the next level because we are committed to raising the bar in Chinese language education…We aim to make Chinese language education more accessible to a broader audience in Rwanda and the East African region.”
Nsanganwimana added that the event was testament to the solid partnership between the two universities, and a momentous occasion to signify the progress in Chinese language education in Africa and cultural exchange.
“As we deliberate on the development of Chinese language education in Rwanda and the broader East African region, let us not only celebrate our achievements but also look ahead to the exciting opportunities and challenges that await us. Together, we can continue to bridge cultures and foster mutual understanding,” he later said.
Deputy director of the College of Liberal Arts at Chongqing Normal University, Shui Qiang tuned into the event via video link and expressed how much the Chinese university looks forward to providing more support for the development of Chinese language education in Africa over the coming years.
Shui added, “We are willing to share resources and experiences in the field of international Chinese language education with East African countries, jointly promoting cooperation and exchange in language, culture, and education.”
Kinyarwanda is spoken by most of the Rwandan population, with much of the youth mixing in some French with Kinyarwanda in a pidgin like way. in 2008, the government changed the medium of education from French to English.