Pak­istan em­braces lan­guage lessons and Chinese cul­ture

China Daily (Canada) - - & ROAD INITIATIVE - By ZHANG YUNBI

De­mand for Chinese classes is surg­ing in Pak­istan, and the sky­rock­et­ing num­ber of peo­ple ap­ply­ing to take lan­guage exams has amazed Zhang Dao­jian, the Chinese direc­tor of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute in Is­lam­abad, the cap­i­tal.

“Last year, the num­ber of peo­ple who ap­plied to take Chinese pro­fi­ciency tests, in­clud­ing the HSK, ex­ceeded 1,000. The num­ber of ap­pli­cants for the first test this year is 1,209,” he said.

Zhang’s in­sti­tute pro­vides lan­guage cour­ses and tests de­signed specif­i­cally for for­eign stu­dents.

Hav­ing ar­rived in the South Asian coun­try in 2012, the Chinese scholar has wit­nessed the in­sti­tute’s rapid devel­op­ment.

Progress has been driven by the en­dur­ing friend­ship be­tween the two coun­tries, and by con­struc­tion of the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (a se­ries of in­fra­struc­ture projects), he said.

The grow­ing de­mand for lan­guage tuition is such that the num­ber of stu­dents try­ing to en­roll at the in­sti­tute has soared.

This year, more than 1,000 peo­ple ap­plied to study dur­ing the first term. How­ever, a short­age of class­rooms and teach­ing ma­te­ri­als meant the in­sti­tute was only able to en­roll 300 peo­ple, although that’s twice as many as last year.

“That’s why we work closely with agen­cies on both sides. With luck, they will make their own con­tri­bu­tion to the grow­ing de­mand for Chinese classes,” Zhang said.

The eco­nomic cor­ri­dor is also be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar with mem­bers of the Pak­istani pub­lic. The peo­ple em­ploy­ees in Pak­istan are ma­jor play­ers in the con­struc­tion of the cor­ri­dor, Zhang said.

In his opinion, greater co­op­er­a­tion in a num­ber of fields — es­pe­cially pol­i­tics, the econ­omy and cul­ture — will prove in­flu­en­tial for Pak­istan’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment and its ef­forts to erad­i­cate ter­ror­ism.

Dur­ing his time in Is­lam­abad, Zhang has been im­pressed by the rapid devel­op­ment of the in­fra­struc­ture.

“When I first came here, Is­lam­abad was less glam­orous, but in the last five years we have seen two new shop­ping malls and new over­passes built,” he said.

Zhang sug­gested that the Chinese and Pak­istani em­bassies should push for poli­cies, such as new visa reg­u­la­tions, to fa­cil­i­tate more exchanges be­tween peo­ple from both coun­tries.

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