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Study proposes policy to address language barriers among CPEC officials

BEIJING: A study conducted by the Lahore School of Economics has called for making a coherent and well-structured language policy to address the communication issues being faced by the workers and managers on CPEC projects. The presence of a multilingual and multiethnic workforce has created a large communication gap among different tiers of the organizations involved in CPEC projects. The education policy will help in cross-culture communication, effective team building, information sharing, and employee responsiveness without any language barriers or adversely affecting any line of work. Moreover, the study has also hinted at the importance of learning mandarin to further bridge the cultural gap between two countries i.e China and Pakistan.
The agreement to create the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was formally signed in 2015 between the two governments of China and Pakistan. There are two main parts to the agreement: One is the development of energy, infrastructure, economic zones and development of Gwadar Port leading to the creation of approximately a million jobs; and two, social development through cultural exchanges and transfer of knowledge through academic training. Above all, CPEC is seen as critical for job creation providing increased employment opportunities; especially for the lower income groups. CPEC also views education including the acquisition of Mandarin and culture as central to promoting better understanding and improved human capital.
A two year study was conducted by Lahore School of Economics to investigate the soft variables of language and culture to facilitate successful implementation of CPEC Project. The focus of the study was to analyze the present language situation and language needs of all stakeholders in the following areas; language and employment; language and class dynamics; and language and education.
The importance of the project is immense. The research findings are pertinent as they indicate that there is a need for a coherent and clearly stated language policy recognized by employees/ workers; and is stated to be the most important factor in the entire CPEC project. The presence of a multilingual workforce belonging to various ethnicities and nationalities points to the importance of a common language for cross culture communication, effective team building, information sharing, and employee responsiveness without any language barriers or adversely affecting any line of work.
The question of the level of Mandarin required for operating in a CPEC dominated environment needs to be understood. For the present Mandarin is seen to be important by workers at lower and middle level with 10-12 years of schooling for upward mobility
Apart from the economic benefits to be derived from learning Mandarin, it is also seen as bridging the cultural gap between the two countries and hence a key player in the social and political context. The benefits to be derived from learning Mandarin are seen in economic terms; keeping in view, the large size of the CPEC project that began in 2016 and is expected to continue for several years.
Multicultural understanding is an intrinsic part of the drive to teach Mandarin in Pakistan. Unlike English where the focus was on creating a class of ‘baboos’, ability to speak and understand Mandarin is viewed as bringing the two cultures, Pakistani and Chinese closer. – Agencies

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