Enrollment in Chinese lessons on the rise

The number of people enrolling for Chinese lessons has doubled, just over a month after the course was introduced in April, at Kigali Institute of Education (KIE).

The number of people enrolling for Chinese lessons has doubled, just over a month after the course was introduced in April, at Kigali Institute of Education (KIE).

On April 17, the first group of 32 KIE students, started and the number has steadily increased to 60, compelling supervisors of Confucius Institute at KIE (CIKIE) – a non-profit institute promoting Chinese language and culture – to start another class.

“We thought it could not be feasible to teach sixty people in one single classroom so we divided the class into two,” Denys Mukama, one of the CIKIE staff members said.

Mukama, also one of the pioneer students explained that the second group would start lessons Thursday (May 21), studying on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings from 6pm.

Before the institute formally started in December last year, a pact establishing it had earlier – January, been signed between KIE and China’s Chongqing Normal University (CNU).

According to Mukama, Chinese is not only an attention-grabbing and exciting class, but a language that is ‘simply unique.’

“This is a unique language. It doesn’t follow the norms we know in Kinyarwanda, French or English. It is the simplest language to learn, with very simple structures. For example, a noun can make a sentence,” he said, illustrating with a short but hard to grasp phrase.

Mukama noted that all in his class, now, virtually speak some Chinese – can tell dates, amount of money and other first-language basics.

“We have now started the real thing, Chinese characters. There are about two thousand five hundred of them,” he said.

Chinese is written with characters which were originally pictures of people, animals or other objects, but have become increasingly stylised and no longer resemble the things they represent. They can be used on their own, in combination with others or as part of other characters.

In future, CIKIE will hold Chinese cultural activities – lectures on special topics, speech contests, calligraphy, singing or paper-cutting, film shows, cooking, costume, classic music and other traditional culture activities.

Chinese is also taught at Riviera High School in Gasabo district, and learning Chinese is seen as an opportunity for Rwandans to ably connect with one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

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