Russia’s Federal Service for the Supervision of Education and Science plans to make Mandarin Chinese a mandatory foreign language in state testing across the nation by the year 2020.
In 2018, 9th graders in Russia will be given the option of taking Chinese on their final exams to help them prepare for the Unified State Exam, a college entrance test that 11th graders must pass in order to enroll, reported Shanghaiist.
Foreign languages — including English, French, German and Spanish — are an elective subject on the exam.
The expansion was announced back in 2015, when Russia’s education department stated that Chinese would be one of the languages in the college entrance exams for districts such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the country’s Far East.
Teachers have said that the number of Russian students who want to learn the language has increased over the past few years.
“We have six different fields. Eastern Studies is one of them where they study eastern languages and Mandarin classes are the biggest,” Andrei Belov, deputy principal of Lyceum of the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, told Channel NewsAsia.
There are 123 state primary and secondary schools in the country that currently offer Chinese classes to more than 17,000 students.
“A task of teaching a foreign language at school is a task of showing an open world to students, give them the ability to get all sorts of information and a chance to be more successful in their profession,” said Ivan Yaschenko, the director of the Centre of Pedagogical Skills.
He added: “Knowing that our cooperation with China is actively growing recently, of course the importance of Chinese language is increasing as well and it’s in demand by parents and by children.”
Russia’s Prime Minister, Dmitri Medvedev, pointed out that learning the Chinese language opens the door to more job and life opportunities for Russians.