Thu | Dec 12, 2019

Francisco J. Bernales | Spanish language strengthening cooperation between Chile and Jamaica

Published:Sunday | December 1, 2019 | 6:47 AM

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. In fact, more than 400 million people have Spanish as their native language. This fact has aroused the interest of many, and today, more than 20 million people study it.

In Jamaica, both Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith have publicly stated the importance of establishing the teaching of Spanish as a priority as this would allow the country to open up to new spaces within Latin America and the Caribbean.

That is why Chile accepted the challenge and desires to support Jamaica in this effort. So that for the second consecutive year through a cooperation ­programme between the International Cooperation Agency of Chile (AGCID) and the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso (PUCV), we are offering free Spanish courses in Jamaica to public- and private-sector officials and ­university students.

After a successful pilot programme in 2018 of only eight weeks, this year, classes were offered at The University of West Indies, the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean, and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) for three months, allowing more than 150 people to be benefited.

The courses ended on Friday with graduation ceremonies at the three above-mentioned venues, where certificates were awarded to those students who successfully completed the programme. This has been an important step for both countries as it has allowed us to get closer culturally and strengthen our bilateral relations.

MAIN PROJECTS

Likewise, and in a broader scope, Chile has advanced in different projects and cooperation programmes within CARICOM that are based in the areas of social development, agriculture and food security, and capacity building in areas such as disaster prevention and management and institutional strengthening.

Among the main projects are diplomas in Teaching Methodology of Spanish as a Second Language for Teachers of Spanish in the English-speaking Caribbean; seminars on Disaster Risk Prevention; technical cooperation around coastal environmental management; and scholarships for Master’s programmes.

It is in this sense that the Government of Chile wishes to continue working with Jamaica and its people in the development of capacities and bringing our cultures closer together, hoping to offer new courses in the coming years and to benefit more people.

Francisco J. Bernales is the ambassador of Chile to Jamaica. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com