CHARLESTOWN, Nevis — Secondary school students on Nevis, ages 12-to-14, will soon have the opportunity to learn Mandarin, in addition to the English, Spanish and French languages which are currently being taught at the island’s high schools.
Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and the Minister of Education, was introduced to Ms. Chen Chi, a professional Mandarin teacher assigned to the Federation, at his Pinney’s Estate office on October 21, by His Excellency Tom Lee, the Republic of China (Taiwan)’s Resident Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis.
“I think the public knows that my government has championed education and training,” said Hon. Bradley. “We feel that is a critical approach to national development and we have as part of that decided that we must expose our people to foreign languages…
“Many of our students who have studied in Taiwan under the long tradition of cooperation that we have with your country, have returned and many speak the language,” said Brantley. “The purpose for us now is to expand that [learning] and ensure that the young people, our school aged youth, are equipped with Mandarin skills. If they succeed in going to Taiwan to study in the future, they will already have basic language skills which will enable them to study and perform more effectively in terms of their learning in Taiwan.”
Mr. Brantley, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs in St. Kitts and Nevis, noted that the presence of Ms. Chen Chi is indicative of the strong relationship which the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has had with the Republic of China (Taiwan).
“I hope that in the future many of our young people will have a basic understanding and be able to speak Mandarin at a level that will equip them for the world,” said the Premier. “We are really trying to train our people and equip them for engagement with the rest of the world. That is why we think this initiative is so important.
“It is a pilot initiative at this time but we hope that if our people respond positively, our school age children respond positively, that we can continue this nexus and partnership with Taiwan to ensure that we have Mandarin embedded in our people here.”
The minister thanked the government and people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) citing that the initiative is yet another manifestation of the excellent relationship that the two countries enjoy.
During his introduction, Ambassador Lee explained the rationale behind his country’s decision to send the Mandarin teacher to the Federation following his discussions with Mr. Brantley.
“We had discussions not only about sending a Mandarin teacher and promoting a people-to-people relationship between St. Kitts and Nevis and Taiwan,” said Ambassador Lee. “Today I am very glad to inform Hon. Premier that our government also recognises the importance of promoting people-to-people relations between our two allies.
“That is why we are very glad to introduce our Mandarin teacher. This is our government’s first time to send a Mandarin teacher to the Federation,” said the ambassador. “In addition, we are going to send another two volunteers to come to the Federation. They are scheduled to be here in mid-November to promote more people-to-people exchanges.”
Ms. Chen, Chi holds a Bachelor in Department of Teaching Chinese as a Second language and a Bachelor in Department of Applied English from the Ming Chuan University.
Ms. Chen Chi spoke of the benefits of being able to speak Mandarin and expressed hope the students would take advantage of the opportunity to learn the language.
“In the era of globalisation, Mandarin and English become the top two most people-spoken languages,” said Ms. Chen Chi. If you can speak Mandarin and English, you can talk to more than two billion people in the world.
“I hope the students here can take this opportunity to gain one more ability for themselves,” she said. “I hope they can build a better connection between Taiwan and St. Kitts and Nevis.”