MORE than 30 civil servants from different ministries began a three month Chinese language course at Machabeng College’s Confucius Classroom on Tuesday.
The classes were arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Lesotho as part of efforts to improve communication between the civil servants and the Chinese community in Lesotho as well as strengthening bilateral relations.
The first Confucius Classroom in Lesotho was officially inaugurated at Machabeng College by the Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho Dr Sun Xianghua and so far the lessons have been offered to Machabeng College students as well as the general public who pay for tuition.
According to Mr Yu Ji, the Director of Confucius Classroom, the government officials will be taught in four hour sessions per week (total of 60 hours) and they will be examined before graduating. Another group of civil servants will enrol for the same course afterwards.
Mr Yu Ji said the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) as an international standardised test of Chinese language proficiency which assesses non-native Chinese speakers’ abilities in using the Chinese language in their daily, academic and professional lives.
HSK consists of six levels, namely HSK (level I), HSK (level II), HSK (level III), HSK (level IV), HSK (level V), and HSK (level VI). The HSK Speaking Test (HSKK) assesses the test takers’ oral Chinese abilities. HSKK consists of three levels, HSKK (Primary level), HSKK (Intermediate level) and HSKK (Advanced level). HSKK is conducted in the form of audio recording.
In his remarks, the Political Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy to Lesotho, Song Changqing said that the course will not only help Basotho deal with the Chinese in their country but also the international business world as the Chinese language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
“This is a very significant event that is not happening by chance but rather shows rising interest by Basotho in China, its people, culture, history and language,” Mr Changqing said.
“The ability to speak the Chinese language will not only help you improve your services to the Chinese but also serve your personal interests such as trading with them or should you wish to visit or study in China. Many of you are already familiar with China and that it has since 2010 been regarded as the second largest economy and its language is one of the six United Nations languages.
“Currently, more than 170 countries in the world are learning the Chinese language, 60 of which have incorporated the language in their curriculum and in Africa the list includes Mauritius, Tanzania, Cameroon and South Africa. I hope the next time we meet, you we will be able to communicate in Chinese.”
For his part, the deputy Principal Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thabang Lekhela, said that the civil servants should not take the opportunity lightly as the Chinese language is important due to the global presence of Chinese entrepreneurs.
“During the 2015 summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, China’s President (Xi Jinping) stated that one of the five pillars of FOCAC was commitment to enrich cultural exchange between China and Africa.
“Learning the Chinese language is a step towards people to people relations because when two people can effectively communicate and understand each other, they are bound to achieve great mutual goals.
“You are lucky to be among the first to learn the language so grasp this opportunity with both hands as apart from the large presence of the Chinese business community in Lesotho, it is essential to learn Chinese due to the global presence of Chinese entrepreneurs,” he said.