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China pushing Mandarin study in India

In a first-of-its-kind deal, the Chinese government has agreed to train 300 Indian teachers at top Chinese universities in a bid to boost Mandarin learning across India. The teachers will then return to India to help promote the uptake of Mandarin language study.

CBSE plans to gradually promote the study of Chinese in 11,500 middle schools

In the agreement between the Confucius Institute – China’s official language promotion agency – and India’s Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), China will also help schools develop a Chinese curriculum and textbook. 100 annual scholarships for Mandarin students from India are also up for grabs.

India’s ambassador to China, S. Jaishankar, described the deal as one of “exceptional and long-term significance”.

“If Indian school students are provided opportunities to learn Mandarin their understanding and appreciation of China and its culture will grow enormously,” he said. “We will truly be shaping the thinking of future generations.”

In April, the CBSE made Chinese a foreign language subject for middle school students in 500 schools. It now plans to gradually promote the study of Chinese in 11,500 middle schools.

Xu Lin, director general of the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (also known as Hanban), which also runs the Confucius Institute, welcomed the deal.

“This agreement is a great event in Chinese education,” he said. “It may take more than 20 years to promote the Chinese language in India. We will work with patience, confidence and perseverance in the next 20 years.”

“We will truly be shaping the thinking of future generations”

The agreement signals an easier line from India on Chinese educational institutions – it has previously refused to allow education institutes run by foreign governments to operate on its soil.

Manipal University is also in talks about opening a branch campus in China as well as hosting the first ever Confucious Institute in India.

“We will do our best to cooperate with the Indian Embassy to send as many teachers as we can,” said Xu. “If other Indian universities want to host Confucius Institutes, we will do our best [to help] because we see BRICS countries as a priority.”

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