The education authorities in Saudi Arabia have reportedly instructed all public and private secondary schools to teach two Chinese language classes each week. Experts said on Thursday that it will have “significant implications” in providing students with opportunities to learn Chinese and experience diverse culture. It also shows the two countries’ increasing communication and cooperation in the field of education.
The fourth period of every Sunday and Monday shall be assigned for teaching Chinese, the Saudi Gazette reported on Tuesday.
This is “positive” news for Chinese language education developing in Saudi Arabia, as the schools have welcomed more than 7 million students in the new semester, Chen Ming, a professor who teaches Chinese at King Saud University, told the Global Times on Thursday.
More than 7 million students across Saudi Arabia returned to schools and universities on August 20, the first day of the new academic year, according to media reports.
The teaching plan has “significant implications” and is also another “major initiative” since Saudi Arabia agreed to include the Chinese language in the curriculum for Saudi schools and universities in 2019, Li Bowen, Chinese language teacher at the King Abdulaziz University and deputy director of the Chinese Proficiency Test Center in Riyadh, told the Global Times on Thursday.
In 2019, the two countries agreed to include the Chinese language in the curriculum at all stages of education in schools and universities in Saudi Arabia, a move to enhance the students’ cultural diversity.
With the popularization of Chinese language courses in primary and secondary schools, it can “provide more employment opportunities” for students majoring in Chinese, and also encourage more people to learn Chinese, according to Li.
Although Chinese language education in Saudi Arabia has stepped into a period of accelerated development, it’s still unbalanced in various regions in the country. For instance, in the 13 regions of Saudi Arabia, with the population mainly concentrated in Riyadh and Jeddah, the Chinese language classes are also mainly set up in the two cities, Li explained.
At the end of 2022, a total of 11 universities in Saudi Arabia have set up Chinese classes. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese teaching and training institutions is also growing rapidly, said Li.
Chinese language learning is currently experiencing a surge in popularity among the people in Saudi Arabia, as many of them believe that they can gain more opportunities in the future if they can speak Chinese, Chen noted. Meanwhile, many teachers like Chen are working in this field to promote the Chinese language education in Saudi Arabia, and to further facilitate cooperation between the two countries.
China and Saudi Arabia agreed to continue to make the China-Saudi relationship a priority in their respective foreign relations, and to build a model of solidarity and cooperation for mutual benefits among developing countries, according to a joint statement released by the two countries in December 2022.