China Week 18th - 22nd August
August 14, 2008
By Marius Vermaak
The Hanban (The Office of Chinese Language Council International, People’s Republic of China) funds Confucius Institutes, which are centres for teaching Chinese language and culture overseas similar to international bodies like the British Council, the Goethe Institute, and the Alliance Française. Confucius Institutes have been established all over the world as independent entities and as entities closely linked to academic institutions (for instance, London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies operates the London Confucius Institute).
A general agreement has been signed between Rhodes University and the Hanban to establish a Confucius Institute at Rhodes, and a supplementary teaching agreement has been signed with Jinan University in Guangzhou, a university with an expertise in the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language. Lecturers will come from Jinan University and be funded by the Hanban to teach courses in Chinese language.
The intention is to begin in 2009 with a one-year course. Students who complete this course would be able to understand and speak Mandarin in everyday situations and to recognise the basic components of Chinese characters.
Although the course is still only at the exploratory stage, in time Chinese would be developed into a full major. Courses will then be offered for Grahamstown schools, and short courses for business and diplomatic purposes. As it grows, the Rhodes Confucius Institute will collaborate with Chinese universities and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and with interested Rhodes academics and departments, to offer a range of courses in Chinese studies, including politics, economics, history, literature, and philosophy. The aim is that within a few years, interested students from Rhodes University will be able to engage at many different levels with Chinese language and culture – which, given China’s involvement with Africa, will be increasingly important and useful.
If you are interested in taking such a course in 2009, please email your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.