The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has announced it will extend compulsory Mandarin teaching to preschoolers across the country, ousting minority languages like Mongolian, Tibetan, and Uyghur -- as well as regional Chinese languages like Sichuanese or Cantonese -- as the medium of instruction for children of all ages across the country. "In order to ... implement general secretary Xi Jinping’s instructions on nationwide Mandarin-medium education ("start them when they're babies"), we will further promote the use of Mandarin across the country," an Aug. 2 directive from the ministry of education said. "We will focus on strengthening Mandarin language learning among preschoolers, during the critical period for language acquisition," the directive, published on an official government website, said.
Starting from the fall semester of 2021, kindergartens in ethnic minority and rural areas that aren't already using Mandarin for childcare activities must begin to do so, the directive said. It said the government was launching a nationwide "batch training" scheme for kindergarten teachers to ensure a sufficient supply of qualified staff to meet the new demand.
The move was aimed at "enabling pre-school children in ethnic minority and rural areas and rural areas to gradually acquire the ability to communicate at a basic level in Mandarin, and to lay the foundations for the compulsory education phase," the directive said.