5,000 more students will learn Mandarin by 2020, Chancellor George Osborne announced in a speech to the Shanghai Stock Exchange during his five day tour of China.
A £10 million boost will be allocated to recruit and train teachers to teach Mandarin up to GCSE level. Mr Osborne suggested that this was a more suitable language option that French or German, which are traditionally taught.
Mr Osborne has been visiting China to further build relationships with them on a variety of projects. By teaching Mandarin in schools, he aims to give young people more opportunities to succeed in an increasingly global economy.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan agreed that the relationship between the UK and China was vital to the economy. "Teaching pupils these important language skills will ensure they leave school not just with an excellent education but fully prepared to compete in the global race," she said.
A survey undertaken by CBI in 2014 highlighted a growing importance for Mandarin speakers in business alongside French, German and Spanish. Research by the CfBT Education Trust and the British Council shows a decline in the number of students taking languages at GCSE and A-level, however the number of schools offering Mandarin as a language option is increasing.
As the relationship between the UK and China grows, business opportunities will flourish. By teaching Mandarin to young people, even more doors will be open for them in the future. Mr Osborne says that by forging these closer economic and cultural relationships, economies within both countries will expand.
Mark Herbert, head of schools programmes at the British Council, said: "While it was encouraging to see Mandarin Chinese GCSE entries rise by 18 per cent this year, more investment is welcome as overall numbers remain low compared to other important languages such as French, Spanish and German."
Posted by Alan Douglas