While noting that plans are afoot to make a second language mandatory for all students in the secondary education system, Minister of Education Myron Walwyn said French and Mandarin will be introduced locally in September.
Those two languages, he added, will first be taught at two schools, which he did not name.
Walwyn told the House of Assembly last evening (March 1) that he is pushing for all students to have a second language because the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is deeply involved in financial services and tourism.
“We are turning our focus now on second languages. I gave a mandate to the CEO (Chief Education Officer) that, by September of this year, we must have French and Mandarin in the school system in the Virgin Islands. We are going to be piloting them at two schools – one primary and one secondary – and see how it goes,” the minister said.
“In years to come, we cannot have people graduating from our secondary system who don’t know a second language. We are too involved in tourism and financial services to be speaking one language; and you have to make it mandatory or else the students will not take it seriously.”
Walwyn indicated that the Chinese government has promised to assist with the teaching of Mandarin.
“I was away a few months ago. I went to the education minsters’ meeting – the one in London, and I met with the education council at the Chinese embassy about getting assistance with Mandarin.
“They are willing now to send us two teachers versed in Mandarin… We just have to do the accommodations and so on, but we expect in September to be able to have French and Mandarin in the schools,” Walwyn further told the House of Assembly.
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