Ayele Tadesse, a teacher at Nedjo Special Boarding School in Ethiopia’s Oromia Regional State, praises students’ exposure to Chinese language studies from an early age. Tadesse, who studied Chinese at Hawassa University in southern Ethiopia, has been teaching the language to some 88 students in three classes at the special boarding school in Nedjo for eight months.
“Teaching the Chinese language to schoolchildren is really an interesting thing. They are incredibly quick to learn the language while being very active in class,” says Tadesse.
The school is one of nine special secondary boarding schools in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, where students have the option of choosing between Chinese, Arabic and French.
Tola Beriso, head of the Oromia Education Bureau, says teaching Chinese to school children will further improve their future opportunities.
“In addition to other subjects, students take classes in Arabic, Chinese and French, depending on their preferences. We have around 1,522 students, of whom 305 have already chosen Chinese,” Beriso explains.
Since Chinese language education has mainly been available to students at university level in Ethiopia, Tadesse says this is a rare opportunity to allow students to learn the language at a younger age. .
Milky Tolemariam, a Chinese teacher at Bishoftu Specialized Secondary Boarding School, agrees. “It’s a very good initiative, because these young children will grow up to be the future of this nation,” he said. “Therefore, teaching them Chinese at this age will further enable them to become bridges between our two peoples.”
Tolemariam organizes a Chinese language training summer camp for Ethiopian teachers in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, with eight other local Chinese language teachers, including Tadesse. The summer camp is organized by the Oromia Bureau of Education in partnership with the Confucius Institute of Addis Ababa University.