Makerere University intends to introduce a Bachelor of Chinese and Asian Studies as one of the measures aimed at responding to the increasing national and global demand for personnel with expertise in the Chinese language.
Once approved by Senate and the National Council for Higher Education, the University will start offering the three-year degree programme next academic year. The programme will be housed in the Department of European and Oriental Languages; School of Languages, Literature and Communication in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. It will be taught in both Chinese and English languages.
According to Prof. Oswald Ndoleriire, the Ugandan Director of the Confucius Institute at Makerere University, the main objective of the programme is to provide learners with certified proficiency in Mandarin and competence in understanding its linguistic, cultural and literacy aspects. “In addition to language and intercultural competence, the programme will expose learners to the intricacies of the fastest growing region in the world, and their application to the Ugandan context.”
Some of the proposed courses include Elementary Chinese Listening and Speech Skills, Elementary Chinese Reading, Elementary Chinese Writing Skills, Laboratory Practice for Reading Skills, Laboratory Practice for Listening and Speaking Skills, Enhancing Spoken Chinese, Chinese Communication Skills, A Chinese Survey, Introduction to Asian Civilization, Chinese Culture and the Global Economy, Gender Issues in Asia and Africa, Contemporary East Asian Political Economy, Globalization in African and Asian Societies, Introduction to Chinese Folkrore, Chinese for Tourism and Hospitality, Culture and Development of East Asia, Issues in the Gulf States, Development and Social Change in Asia and Africa, Nationalism in East Asia and Africa, Chinese Phonetics and Phonology, Sino-African Relations, Study of Chinese Policies and Institutions, Chinese Morphology and Syntax, Chinese Materials Development and Evaluation, Chinese Law and Legal Terminology, Theory and Practice of Research in Chinese, Theory and Practice of Translation in Chinese, Chinese Semantics and Chinese sociolinguistics.
All students enrolled for the programme will be required to study five core language courses and an elective every semester. In addition, the students will be required to go for Field Attachment at the end of the second year. The initial target is to admit 150 day and 150 evening students.
On 1st June 2018, the Confucius Institute in collaboration with the School of Languages, Literature and Communication at Makerere University held a stakeholders consultative meeting to discuss and further improve the proposed content. Participants mainly government officials, officials from the Chinese Embassy, Makerere University staff, secondary school head teachers and members of the business community underscored the importance of the programme noting that it will greatly minimize the challenges currently experienced in the teaching and learning of Chinese.
In his remarks, Mr. Martin Osuban, Assistant Commissioner for Secondary Education at Ministry of Education and Sports said the ministry had embraced the programme.
"We trust that once approved, the programme will impart the relevant skills in our learners to ably compete in the global job market," he said.
The Commissioner said Chinese is one of the foreign languages the Ministry of Education and Sports has adopted for the lower secondary education curriculum.
"Government appreciates foreign languages are very important because they help build diversity. Chinese is one of the international languages which is widely spoken. China is a great economic power and Ugandans are interacting with Chinese in the fields of business and government," he said.
Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Zheng Zhuqiang, in a statement read by the Head of the Department of European and Oriental Languages, Dr Edith Natukunda, said the Embassy supports the initiative to introduce the programme and would provide all the necessary support within its capacity once it is launched.
The Deputy Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr Josephine Ahikire, appreciated the Government of China for its support towards the teaching and learning of Chinese in Uganda. She said the College would provide all the support required for the approval of the programme.