The Ministry of Education of Georgia signed a special agreement with the Chinese embassy on cooperation in promotion of the Chinese language and studying Chinese in all regular schools of the country. Since last year, children of the prestigious Tbilisi 53rd School study Chinese three hours a week. The Ministry of Education decided to use the experience in all city schools.
The agreement signed by Mikhail Batiashvili, the Minister of Education, and Ji Yanchi, the Chinese ambassador, includes a joint development of an education standard for studying the Chinese language in Georgian schools, as well as inviting teachers from China.
Nothing strange would be in the initiative by the Ministry of Education, considering China’s growing role in the modern world, but for peculiarities of foreign language studying system in Georgian schools. According to the current laws, all schools are obliged to include English as a required subject in the education program of the elementary school. Since the fifth grade, a second foreign language is studied. The second foreign language is chosen by parents: Russia, French, German, or Italian. Now Chinese is added to the list. The Georgian government intends to encourage studying the Chinese language, hoping for further development of relations with the Asian giant.
Thus, parents will have to choose between Russian and Chinese as, according to a popular view, speaking English opens an opportunity for individual studying other European languages; and it’s preferable to learn a non-European language. For some unknown reason, Russian is thought to be a non-European.
Valeri Kvartskhelia, the leader of the Neutral Georgia Party, told Vestnik Kavkaza that “any attempt to sideline Russian in Georgia would be not only failure but also a sham as Pushkin’s language remains the second language after Georgian in the country and neither Chinese nor English is able to sideline it.”