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Mandarin challenging English in African classrooms

Mandarin Chinese is fast challenging English in African classrooms with Kenya announcing that by 2020, primary school students will be able to choose China’s dominant language as a subject.

This follows South Africa, which was the first African nation to introduce Mandarin into its public school curriculum, and others like Uganda, which have since followed.

Mandarin is largely being introduced through the various Confucius Institutes, China’s international cultural centres, similar to the British Council, the Goethe Institute and Alliance Française.

The Confucius Institute at the University of Cape Town, for example, will dispatch a Mandarin teacher and textbooks to interested schools.

The move follows similar soft culture moves by Beijing, like inviting journalists to the Chinese capital to learn how to engage with Chinese media.

Ethiopia to ban public smoking Ethiopia has made moves to ban smoking in public places and also in certain alcohol adverts, as part of wider measures to protect public health. The draft bill, passed in parliament, also makes provisions to raise the drinking age to 21.

Africa has numerous substance-related public health crises, ranging from codeine cough syrup addiction in Nigeria to heroin in South Africa.

Kenya in 2017 joined Rwanda in issuing a total shisha (water-pipe tobacco) ban, in recognition of a WHO advisory note.

Second edition of Abidjan circus festival Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, played host to the second edition of the ‘Intercultural Encounters of the Circus of Abidjan’ festival to celebrate international circus.

The five-day cultural event welcomed some 48 artists from Japan, France, Morocco, South Africa and Ethiopia, with a prestigious guest – the Cirque du Soleil from Canada.

In a bid to spread the littleknown art of circus in Africa, performers were encouraged to hold events at local schools.

The festival also introduced a pan-African contest bringing together artists from Africa to encourage the creation of new circus troupes.

According to the organisers, “African circus will have its own flavour, its own colour and identity, [and] be unique in the world.”

"Here in Abidjan, there is an idea to create a circus arts training centre that would answer to a great need because there is a lot of talent but there are no training centres and very few training centres in all of Africa,” said Head of Public Affairs and Community Relations at Cirque du Soleil, Emmanuel Bochud. “So it’s a great project.”

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