Many schools across Nepal have made it mandatory for students to learn Mandarin lured by the Chinese government's offer to cover salaries of teachers who teach the language, a media report said on Saturday.
Principals and staff of at least 10 renowned private schools told The Himalayan Times that Mandarin was a compulsory subject in their institutions.
Many more private schools in Pokhara, Dhulikhel and other parts of the country have also made Mandarin compulsory for students, according to Shiv Raj Pant, board of trustee, founder and chairman of LRI School.
"Schools are allowed to teach foreign languages, but they cannot make those subjects mandatory for students," said Ganesh Prasad Bhattarai, information officer at the Curriculum Development Centre, a government body which designs school-level academic curriculum.
"If a subject has to be made compulsory, it is us who take the decisions, not the schools."
Schools that spoke to The Himalayan Times were aware of this rule, but they have simply overlooked it, as they are getting Mandarin teachers for free.
"We introduced Mandarin as a compulsory subject two years ago after the Chinese Embassy agreed to provide teachers free of cost," said Kuldip Neupane, principal at United School.
Other schools also confirmed that salaries of Mandarin teachers were being paid by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu.
"We only need to provide stipend to Chinese teachers to cover their accommodation and food costs," said Hari Dahal, principal of Apex Life School.
"We know children should be allowed to make choices. So, if there are volunteers who wish to teach Japanese and German, we will always welcome them," Khyam Nath Timsina, principal of Shuvatara School said.
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