The announcement by Makerere University Business School (Mubs) to teach Chinese courses has stirred mixed reactions.
Even when Mubs says the courses will include marketing, and hospitality, many Ugandans ask why now, and who needs to learn Chinese? Others are wondering whether Chinese languages – Mandarin or Cantonese – are even international languages, and just how many Ugandans will learn, or even find them useful.
Many more argue that learning Chinese instead of Luganda or Lwo is neo-colonialism. Others too, have asked whether Chinese will help them get a job or put food on their tables. Others wonder whether Ugandan graduates have market in China. Yet more critics say Chinese courses are not competitive and are marketable in only China. Worse, Mandarin or Cantonese are often labelled as one of the world’s most difficult languages.
But how wrong they are! The timing of these courses is just right coming when China is powerful enough to influence events throughout the world. One, China is the fastest growing economy, surpassed Japan in 2011, and expected to outpace USA as the world’s largest economy by 2020.
Two, China remains a global manufacturing hub. Three, China is already the largest market for products such as minerals, timber, and other essential raw materials.
On the flip side, learning Mandarin or Cantonese, gives our graduates and businesses, chances of exploring opportunities in China.
Just as premier Ruhakana Rugunda said of French and German as he commissioned the cultural centres on Wednesday, learning Mandarin is essential for Uganda. This adds a competitive edge to Uganda’s workforce, makes it more diversified, talented and more competitive in the global economy.
As an illustration, the West used to keep off China but has edged closer, learnt Mandarin, now trade with China and have got to know better how China works. Besides, this need for constructive engagement has now had several UK and other universities in Europe teach their students Mandarin.
Likewise, China has made non-profit Confucius Institutes at universities key components of Chinese government policy in order to help the rest of the world learn Chinese and connect with China’s language and culture. Already, China sends abroad thousands of teachers each year. And since 2005, China has rolled out more than 300 Confucius Institutes in 94 countries, worldwide. The Mubs collaboration is one similar platform.
In the end, Mubs’ offer of Chinese courses is well-timed. These courses, especially Chinese languages, marketing, and hospitality build Uganda’s workforce, and connect it to snap up the big opportunities China offers in the 21st Century.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor