Ambassador 'surprised' Chinese not in Leaving Cert
China's ambassador to Ireland has expressed "surprise" at the fact that Chinese is the only official language of the UN not examined at Leaving Cert level.
Of the six official UN languages - Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish - Mandarin Chinese is the only one which is not a Leaving Certificate subject.
Mr Jianguo Xu said: "In the language category, you will see over a dozen options, but Chinese is not one of them, which I have found hard to understand.
"Some people in Europe often talk about Chinese as a 'language of the future'.
"I can see a growing demand for Chinese learning and teaching here in Ireland. China-Ireland relations are better than ever, with closer and deeper economic ties and people-to-people links."
Mr Jianguo Xu said progress has been made with the language being taught as a short course in the reformed Junior Cycle programme and in the Transition year.
"If the Irish Government sees a need for additional qualified Chinese language teachers or more teaching and learning materials for second language learners, I am confident that the Chinese Government and universities can offer some help."
The Department of Education and Skills said it was in the process of developing a foreign languages strategy to address the language-learning needs of students.
"Particular attention will be paid in the development of the strategy to practical ways in which Mandarin Chinese could form part of the range of languages available to Irish students," a spokesperson said.
"There will be an examination of the potential to include Mandarin Chinese as a language in senior cycle of post-primary."