For the academic year of 2020-21, the China Scholarship Council is offering 32 Chinese Government Scholarships to Bangladeshi applicants
Rajibul Islam started learning Chinese at the University of Dhaka in 2011, for better career prospects.
Three years later, he enrolled in an MBA programme in a Chinese university.
After completing his degree, he is now working as an administrative and legal officer in the China Petroleum LONGWAY Engineering Project Management Company Ltd.
Together, his linguistic skills and hard work proved beneficial and helped him earn a fortune in China.
Around 1.3 billion people around the world are native Chinese speakers and it is one of the official languages of the United Nations.
Over the years, popularity of the Chinese language rose in Bangladesh and many students are learning the language to earn scholarships for higher studies or better jobs abroad.
A search for scholarships?
There are 274 Chinese universities offering scholarships for international students every year.
For the academic year of 2020-21, the China Scholarship Council (CSC) is offering 32 Chinese Government Scholarships to Bangladeshi applicants.
The scholarships require the applicants to pass the Chinese Language Proficiency Test (HSK) test.
A number of local universities offer degrees and courses in the Chinese language.
In 2016, Dhaka University introduced a four-year undergraduate degree on Chinese language and culture.
In addition, University of Rajshahi, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, North South University, Brac University, Eastern University, BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology and many others offer periodical courses on Chinese language.
They offer junior-level, senior-level and diploma courses and the duration lasts between three months and two years.
Also, amid a growing demand for learning the foreign language, many cities outside Dhaka have also opened private institutes for students to learn the language.
Speaking to The Business Standard, Rajibul said Bangladeshi students are becoming more interested in learning the Chinese language after the Chinese government reshaped the existing foreign and education policies.
"Many students are going to China to pursue their higher education. Additionally, many people are also working there. Knowing Chinese helps in both areas," he said.
The Chinese government has launched an exchange programme allowing Bangladeshi students to study in China for six months or one year with full scholarship.
Moreover, the Chinese authorities are planning a credit transfer facility for Bangladeshi students. Once finalised, students will be able to transfer their credits to one of the listed Chinese universities, after completing two years of undergraduate studies at Dhaka University.
However, every Bangladeshi student applying for a credit transfer or exchange programme will have to pass the HSK test (Chinese language proficiency test).
The search for better career options
Rakibul Hasan, a third year student studying Chinese language and culture at the Institute of Modern Languages at Dhaka University (DU) told this correspondent about his experience working as a Chinese translator.
He also mentioned that the remuneration paid by the authorities for a part-time position was beyond his expectation.
Rakibul also mentioned that twelve graduates from his senior batch are now working in China with handsome salaries.
Asked about his future plans, Rakibul said he aspires to take the HSK test to apply for higher studies in China or work as a Chinese language interpreter in Bangladesh.
"China has invested a lot in Bangladesh, they will not be leaving soon. I believe there are many opportunities of employment if we know Chinese," he said.
Many others learning Chinese language were also hopeful about getting into the global job market with their knowledge of an additional foreign language.
In 2016, China and Bangladesh inked a $20 billion memorandum of understanding (MoU) consisting of 27 projects.
The investment in infrastructure projects like Padma Bridge has resulted in students believing that the Chinese will linger in Bangladesh for many years to come.
Hence, learning the language will also be beneficial for finding suitable employment in the Chinese projects in Bangladesh.
In addition to an undergraduate degree in Chinese Language and Culture, DU also offers periodical Chinese language courses. There are four types of courses offered by DU which cost Tk10,000.
Professor Ayub Nabi Khan, vice-chancellor of the BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology, said the university introduced a Chinese language course to enhance cultural cooperation.
"However, the course has become a career opportunity for many students," he added.
In BGMEA, a two-month course fee is Tk25,000.
Mohammad Rafiqul Islam has been teaching Chinese Language at Brac University since 2014.
Brac University offers three kinds of course including begginer, medium and advance. The university fixed the course fee at Tk4,500-Tk6,500 for two months having 15 classes.
Md Afzal Hossain, associate professor of the Department of Chinese at DU said the growing interest in the language is "economic".
He recalled the time when people learned English for better jobs. A few years ago people were learning Japanese for the same reason.
"It is time of the Chinese. The language comes with a promise of a comfortable life and job security," the professor said.
He added, "Forget about the scholarships and think straight. A DU graduate joins a job at Tk25,000 and remains happy. But the same person is offered not less than Tk50,000 if they know Chinese language and goes for a simple translator's post," he said.