A Chinese language programme will be officially introduced to UAE schools from the beginning of the new academic year in September 2019, according to the Emirates News Agency.
The programme, entitled ‘Chinese Language Programme: Current Status and Future Plan,' marks the "historic peak" in relations between the UAE and China, said the UAE Ministry of Education in a press release. "Emirati people are interested to know more about the Chinese language and culture."
Hussain Al-Hammadi, UAE Minister of Education, and the Confucius Institute's Deputy Chief Executive, Ma Jianfei, signed an MoU on July 22nd to introduce the Chinese language to UAE education curricula. The MoU was signed on the sidelines of the China-UAE Economic Forum which coincides with the visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to China.
According to the ministry report, two Chinese language programmes will be introduced: the ‘National Chinese Language Curriculum Framework,' which focuses on the student learning outcomes, and the ‘National Chinese Curriculum Syllabus,' which focuses on the details and scope of the content. These are to be prepared to support implementation of the Chinese language curriculum for the coming academic year.
The Ministry of Education will hire 150 Chinese language teachers for the academic year 2019-2020, the report said.
Teaching resources are also being developed by the ministry. According to the report, an 18-part series 'Across the Silk Route' will cover the six levels, with each level divided into three books. The books adopt a "holistic approach" to learning, and emphasise the development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in the Chinese language.
The initial goal of the series is to help students in UAE schools to "establish a solid foundation of vocabulary" and "knowledge of Chinese language, content and cultural elements," the report added.
Other books are also being developed in cooperation with China’s Nishan Press to help UAE students better understand Chinese culture and society via nine aspects - art and design, mathematics, geography, science, music and drama, history, literature, sports and society.
Following its launch in September 2019, the programme’s implementation stage will take place throughout the coming three years, the report said, noting there will be a continuous monitoring and evaluation process to ensure the programme's effectiveness.
Plans to establish a Chinese Centre at the Ministry are also in progress. This will enable Chinese specialists carry out the monitoring and evaluation aspects of the programme.
"Continuous support from both the UAE and China is essential to the sustainable development of Chinese learning and teaching at schools," the report highlighted.
The groundwork for the programme started in 2017, when the Ministry of Education’s Under-Secretaries, Dr Harmad Al-Yahyaei and Matar Al-Hameli, visited the Confucius Institute Headquarters, Hanban, in Beijing to discuss the introduction of the Chinese language to UAE schools.
A report was submitted to the Ministry of Education by the Confucius Institute’s Professor Zhiping Zhu and Dr Xiaoming Lan in July 2017, marking progress on the Chinese language programme’s implementation. Two months later, 20 Chinese teachers were appointed after being meticulously selected and distributed among 11 public schools to teach Chinese language to grade 10 students.
The UAE Ministry of Education announced last year that Chinese language would be taught in 100 schools in 2019 through student clubs, to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade students.