By Chinyere Nwachukwu
The Nigeria Director, Confucius Institute, University of Lagos, Prof. Chimdi Maduagwu, says the institute has trained no fewer than 6,000 persons in Mandarin Chinese language since its inception in 2009.
Maduagwu disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.
He said that plans were underway to extend the teaching of the language to the Nigeria Police Force.
According to him, the quest by Nigerians to learn the language is increasing by the day.
“Nigerians are really yearning to learn the Chinese language and statistics at our disposal show that the level of enrollment is increasing by the day.
“This, however, is not coming to us as a surprise, given the influence of China and its obvious position in world affairs today, especially in world economy, being the second largest as well as being the greatest economic partner of Nigeria.
“With this, it is therefore clear that Nigerians will be interested in learning Chinese language and culture, and I am not surprised that they are actually learning.
“As we speak, the University of Lagos Confucius Institute has trained almost 6,000 persons in Mandarin Chinese Language, and in addition to this, the university equally runs a degree programme in the language,” he said.
Maduagwu said that the same goes for the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in Anambra, that had even trained more persons at its Confucius institute, as well as runs a degree programme in the language.
“Now, I have been two years as director of the Unilag Confucius Institute, and by 2017 that I came in as director, our enrollment was about 200 students.
“By 2018, we had crossed 350 to 500 and right now, we have about 700 registered students across all levels.
“We operate five levels of proficiency programme, and with time, we prepare them for a Chinese examination, simply known as the ‘HSK Examinations’.
“These are proficiency examinations, and they come with certificates,” Maduagwu told NAN.
He, however, noted that one of the challenges facing the institute was accommodation.
“We do not have enough space for more students who want to enroll for the programme.
“We have about nine Professional Chinese teachers from China who are here with us and we also have about six indigenous Nigerian teachers of the Chinese language with us.
“So, in the area of facilitators, I will say we are comfortable.
“Most of our teachings are done outside here. We send our teachers out to some of the primary and secondary schools to teach the students in their own environment.
“The ones we do at the university here too are for undergraduates and other persons outside who are adults.
“In addition, we also teach staff of the University of Lagos who are also interested in studying the language.
“It may also interest you to know that we also teach officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service who normally have some contact with speakers of the language at the border,” the don said.
According to him, the institute is also planning to extend the teaching of the Chinese language to the Nigeria Police Force as well as officers of the Nigeria Customs.
He said that before the end of the year, the institute would commence teaching the two security arms, (the Police and Customs).
According to him, getting more Nigerians to learn foreign languages will create more economic and other gains, not just for them as individuals, but the nation at large.