There are some people who fear that Chinese will become the third official language in Cameroon. This is not (yet) the case. However, Mandarin has been making its way into the education system of the country. It is even said that it is now on the list of examination papers for the “probatoire” (the exam before the baccalauréat). Which is true. In front of the press in May 2016, the Director of the Baccalauréat Office in Cameroon (OBC); body in charge of organising high school exams, announced that Chinese was among the papers of the probatoire which would take place in June. And he kept his word.
Indeed, on 14 June 2016, students in the class of première (last but one year in senior high school, Trans.), with the elective economic and social sciences for example had three modern language options: German, Spanish and Chinese. During three hours (from 1pm to 4pm), the students wrote an exam paper on the language learned in class. Chinese thus joins German and Spanish introduced since 1951 as optional languages in junior high school starting from 4ème (alongside mandatory languages, French and English).
The introduction of Chinese was predictable considering the exponential number of Conficius Institutes, dedicated to teaching the Middle Empire’s language. These centres are in demand with businessmen, senior civil servants or simply young people searching for jobs where Chinese is a requirement. Cameroon is even the first African country to host a Conficius Insitute. The whole nine yards!
Monique Ngo Mayag