Chinese to be taught at schools in Serbia

Chinese to be taught at schools in Serbia
Source: B92, Tanjug:
Belgrade - Serbian Ministry of Education signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Chinese Ambassador, according to which the Chinese will be taught in Serbian schools. 

For a start, Chinese will be a foreign language of choice in 30 schools in different cities of Serbia. With the help of 14 teachers from China, more than 2.000 children will start to learn Chinese at primary and secondary schools. 

"Our friend People's Republic of China has the most dynamic industry and the largest open market in the world. Economic and any other cooperation with partners from China will be much easier and more successful if we have a young and qualified staff who understands the Chinese language and who knows the culture and customs of the Chinese people" ,said Minister of Education Zarko Obradovic.

"The traditional friendship between our two countries have strong roots and cultural exchange has a long history. Language is the carrier of culture and a means of communication between people. 
Young people in Serbia will have the opportunity to learn about Chinese traditions and the culture that is five thousand years old, "said the Chinese Ambassador in Belgrade, Zhang Wanxue

 Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic reminded us that the 21st century shall be the century of China, by saying:

"I can only send a message - learn Chinese, you'll need it." 

Minister Obradovic said, during the signing of the memorandum, that this pilot project will last until the end of this year and, if successful, the Chinese language can be introduced as a facultative subject. [1]

Serbia is neither first, nor the only European country that offers lessons of Chinese in primary and secondary schools. Sweden was the first European country to introduce it to schools
Chinese is the main foreign language taught in Swedish schools, followed  by Spanish, German and French. In July, 2011 Swedish Minister of Education Jan Bjoerklund said that very highly qualified activities are leaving Europe to move to China and that Chinese will be much more important from an economic point of view than French or Spanish. 
He also stressed that getting Swedish pupils to learn Chinese is vital to strengthening Swedish competitiveness. [2]

Over a decade now, China is developing a web of strategic investments that stretches from the former Soviet Union to Latin America from the South Pacific islands to the oil fields of Africa. 

It is establishing and maintaining good political connections, acquiring new markets and exploiting vital resources. On some continents, China has even surpassed the traditional imperialistic countries of Europe and the United States. 

Where those countries, especially the United States, assert themselves in their usual arrogant manner, China has a softer approach and is often working on building inter-cultural relations, so that governments and the local people tend to be more open to giving their investments an oportunity. One of the means for that is the language. 
According to Wikipedia, Chinese government helps over 60.000 teachers promote its language worldwide, and estimated 40 million people were studying Chinese as their second language in 2008. [3]

In a way, we are talking about a cultural and economic colonization. Under such circumstances, the knowledge of Chinese can really become an asset. In my experience, learning a foreign language can open ones horizons, as long as one respects ones own culture and language. On the other side, there are some voices in Serbia that criticize this decision, saying that our educational system has so many "holes" that investing in a new foreign language implementation should be very low on the list of our priorities. I would love to know your opinion on this. 


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