18 June 2017

Tanzania: Chinese Language in Job Creation

Dar es Salaam — Paid job opportunities are hard to come by. This is due to a number of factors including high competition and low level of creation of job openings.

Basing on the Annual Employment and Earnings Surveys and Integrated Labour Force Surveys conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, there were 2,854,237 newly created jobs in paid employment between 2005 and 2014.

Existing literature shows that Youth Unemployment Rate in Tanzania decreased to 13.70 percent in 2014 from 14.90 percent in 2006.

The above figures show that jobs do not come by easily. The University of Dar es Salaam alone is said to produce some 8,000 young people who are ready to join the labour market every year.

But, it must be remembered that there are several other universities and colleges in the country, some youth join the labour market after completion of Standard Seven, Form Four or Form Six.

It means, hundred thousands of youth join the labour market every year.

This is why youth who are looking forward to join the labour market should look up for opportunities and ways of breaking through the challenge of securing a paid job.

One opportunity that some youth have grabbed is the learning of Chinese language.

Often, people have the notion that learning a new language is a daunting task. While this may be true, what determines the success levels in the endeavour among people is the ability by someone to keep focused on what they are doing.

Martina Chaliga, a third year student at the University of Dodoma (Udom) pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Arts and Education, majoring Chinese and Literature, told The Citizen how learning Chinese has oppened opportunities for her.

She says, two years ago, she travelled all the way to Beijing, China. She went to participate in a traditional dress competition that brought together contesters from different nationalities.

"I dressed in the Maasai attire and performed superbly. Indeed, I represented well my countr," she says.

"I got a chance of working in China as an interpreter on TV programs. Here at the university, they need me to work as a teacher while two Chinese companies based here have promised to offer me a job," she told The Citizen during the 16th Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition for foreign college students in Tanzania held recently.

According to her, the greatest benefit of knowing Chinese that makes her feel proud is a scholarship granted to her to pursue Master's Degree in China where she is expected to travel this September.

"I can fluently speak three foreign languages including Chinese, French and English," she says wearing a broad smile.

"Let me challenge my fellow young people. Learn as many languages as you can. You'll broaden your chances of securing a job," she says.

Martina is of the opinion that learning several foreign languages is crucial as the country gears up towards industrialisation.

For his part, Mr Ahmed Mohamed, a second year student at Zanzibar's Journalism and Mass Media College pursuing a diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy, says he started learning Chinese six months ago.

"I would like to become a diplomat. Therefore, in order to be a good diplomat, I must speak several languages. Currently I speak Arabic, English and Chinese. I'm almost certain that after completing my studies the issue of finding a job will not be problem to me," he says.

He also says that he is currently planning to learn the Franch.

"Speaking Chinese took me to Udom and UDSM for competitions that have given me the confidence tht I can do it," Ahmed says.

The Citizen also caught up with Tewele Ayubu, who emerged the runner-up in the competition.

"My goal is to become a Chinese language teacher. My desire is to see that there are more Tanzanians learning the language," he says.

"This will enable them to quickly learn the technology and other technical-know how needed for industrialisation of our economy," adds Tewele.

Ms Li Yang, a Chinese teacher based at the Zanzibar's Journalism and Mass Media College, says, "I'm real very proud of my four students, who did very well in the competition. It has encouraged me as a teacher. They learned this language for one month and they were so good in the beginning."

According to her, Chinese language is not hard to learn. She says each language may be difficult to foreigners, but it is the determatio to learn that makes it easy.

"I was born in China, where my first language is Chinese... but I learned English which I can speak fluently and now I'm learning Swahili and I don't see any difficult because I intend to know it," says the Chinese teacher.

Li says there are a number of opportunities that Tanzanians can explore in China, given the fact that it is a developed country.

She opines that Chinese Language can positively contribute to the country's industrialisation drive as well as its goal of becoming a middle-income economy by 2020 and 2025 respectively.

There are over 100 Chinese companies operating in Tanzania at the moment.

"So we encourage students to go for the Chinese language because our aim is to assist this nation so that one day it becomes highly developed, and this can be done," she says.

According to her, there are over 200 students learning the language at her college.

Rose Uppor, who is the principal of the College of Humanities at the UDSM, says the Confucius Institute has contributed immensely to creating a cultural understanding of the world's largest population and their heritage.

For his part, the director of the Confucius Institute at the UDSM, Prof Yan Liu, says every year two students are sent to China for learning different things while the winner secures a scholarship for Master's degree.

Pro Liu says that this year's winner would go to China and participate in other competitions involving other institutions from different countries in the world.

However, Prof Liu says the runner-up would get an opportunity of visiting China to learn about different things. "The Chinese language is a bridge of development. We encourage people to learn this language as it helps to understand the country, especially for those doing business.

"Our mission is to strengthen the diplomatic relations between the two countries which started over 50 years ago," he says.

Prof Liu adds that the Chinese programme would also contribute to the country's industrial economy as more Tanzanians will overcome the language barrier in their trips to China, thus more will travel there result in increased trade volumes between the two countries.

He says currently in Africa there are 37 countries that have introduced the programme.

Meanwhile, in the 2017 academic year the UDSM is expected to start offering bachelor's degree and diploma in Chinese and Kiswahili languages, whereby after three years a number of students would be expected to speak and write Chinese well.

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