THE Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho Sun Xianghua has encouraged more Basotho to learn Mandarin to ensure that they complement the China-Lesotho relations which have reached an all-time high.
Dr Sun said this at the Chinese Bridge-Chinese Proficiency Competition for secondary school students and the award giving ceremony for the story writing competition My China Stories 2018 at Avani Lesotho recently.
The second edition of the annual competition saw 35 young Basotho walking away with certificates and prizes ranging from M1000 to M2500 each. The money summed up to M53 500 and was provided by the embassy.
Dr Sun said many people across the world are studying Mandarin, the Chinese language. He said this was evidenced by the more than 100 million people currently enrolled for Chinese lessons as a foreign language worldwide.
"At this moment, there are more than 500 Confucius college and 1000 Confucius Classrooms in more that 130 countries around the world where many foreign friends are learning this language," Dr Sun said.
"We carry extensive cooperation in almost all sectors and more Basotho are going to China for training or studies every year. In the past three years since the Johannesburg summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), roughly 900 Basotho have gone to China to join training programmes or pursue academic degrees.
"Therefore, it is not surprising that more Basotho, either in schools or in other walks of life, are starting to learn Chinese. In this regard the Machabeng College is spearheading this trend and I believe other schools will follow suit in the near future," Dr Sun said.
He said the purpose of making My China Stories an annual competition is to ensure that all the touching stories between the Chinese and Basotho are known to others and "encourage more people to treasure and contribute to the friendship between our two countries".
"The stories will also sensitise and encourage all the Chinese people, either here in Lesotho or in China, know about and contribute to the close comradeship between our two countries," Dr Sun said.
For his part, the Deputy Minister of Education and Training, Mothepu Mahapa acknowledged the work done by the Chinese Embassy and said it is his ministry's plan to include the Mandarin in the curriculum as a subject.
Mr Mahapa said this will assist Lesotho as a country and Basotho to strengthen their relations since many locals travel to China every year for education and other economic development issues.
Mr Mahapa further asked the China to assist his ministry which is burdened with the shortage of teachers to support with the teachers' grants. He said the government was thankful to China for its immense contribution to the improvement of the country's education and economic development.