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Public high school students in Philippines learn Arabic and Mandarin

Move to make Filipinos globally competitive

Gulf News

Manila: Arabic and Mandarin, considered as the world’s emerging languages today, are being taught to high school pupils in Philippine public schools, under a programme aimed to make Filipinos globally competitive, a senior official said.

“We began introducing Arabic and Mandarin in public secondary schools with speech laboratories since 2011. It is part of the education department’s Special Programme in Foreign Language,” said Lolita Andrada, secondary education director of the department of education.

“Mandarin is widely used in China, now the world’s second largest economy. Arabic is the primary language in the Middle East, one of the prime destination of overseas Filipino workers (OFW),” explained Andrada.

“Studies have shown that facility in just one foreign language [such as English in the Philippines] is now perceived as a disadvantage in a global market that is culturally and linguistically diverse,” said Andrada, adding that students with proficiency in English are allowed to learn Arabic and Mandarin.

English is taught to primary pupils both in private and public schools.

It is widely believed that the English language will no longer be useful in the future because it now accounts only for 30 per cent of the world’s total gross domestic product, Andrada said.

German was also taught to public school students in 2011.

In 2009, public schools started teaching French, Japanese, and French in public schools.

Spanish is being taught in 54 public high schools nationwide; Japanese in 13 high schools; French in 12 high schools; and German in nine high schools.

The number of public schools teaching Arabic and Mandarin was not revealed.

Senior high school pupils are allowed four hours weekly to learn another language, said Andrada, adding it is the right time for them to learn a foreign language.

“Our aim is to produce more internationally competitive graduates in public schools,” Andrada said.

The government offers free kindergarten, primary, and secondary education in public schools.