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Skepticism Greets Zimbabwe Chinese Language Initiative

Looking to support its “Look East” policy of close economic ties with China and other Asian nations, Zimbabwe’s government says it will oblige university students to learn Chinese. Education Minister Stan Mudenge said at a ceremony marking the renaming of Masvingo State University to Great Zimbabwe National University that courses in Mandarin will “promote tourism and trade between the two countries.”

But students at the University of Zimbabwe, which reopens next month, are dismissing the scheme, saying Chinese would be of little use to them and noting that institutions nationwide are facing shortages of lecturers, books and boarding facilities.

University of Zimbabwe lecturer John Makumbe told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that such a Mandarin Chinese program will be difficult to put in place and isn't particularly relevant to Zimbabwe's needs

But University of Zimbabwe education professor Fred Zindi told VOA reporter Ashenafi Abedjie that while he is maintaining a neutral stand on the proposal, “Knowedge for the sake of knowledge is good and useful at some point.” He notes that China is the world’s fourth largest economic, making it worthwhile for Zimbabwe to develop ties.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...