SANTIAGO, May 6 (Xinhua) -- The Chilean Education Ministry announced on Wednesday the expansion of Chinese education in the country's high schools.
According to the ministry's plan, the number of high schools that run Chinese courses as a foreign language will rise from five to 10 in 2009 and the number of high school students learning Chinese will rise to 1,700 from 850 in 2008.
Rodrio Fabrega, chief of the "Languages Open Doors" program, said the country's demand for talents who can speak Chinese is increasing particularly in economic, cultural and tourism sectors, since a free trade deal between the two countries took effect in October 2006.
Currently, some enterprises and institutions in Chile have a high demand for staff who can speak Chinese, and students of high schools and universities have a strong desire to learn Chinese, Fabrega told Xinhua.
Xu Lin, director of the International Council of the Chinese Language, said the Chinese side supports Chile's Chinese education and will offer help, in forms of fund and books, to Chile in this respect.
Chinese is the fourth foreign language incorporated by the Education Ministry into its educational plan following English, French and German.
On Tuesday, a new Confucius Institute was inaugurated in Catolica university of Chile, the 320th of its kind in the world to promote the Chinese culture and language.