BEIJING, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- China announced Tuesday to award scholarships to 1,021 foreign applicants for a master's program on Chinese language teaching, with an aim to cultivate local teaching staff amid increasing overseas demands for learning the language.
The foreigners, from more than 50 countries, promised to teach Chinese for more than five years after they graduate from the master's program carried out by 50 universities around China, including the Peking University and the Beijing Normal University.
State Councilor Liu Yandong said at the award ceremony that the scholarship was a new method to promote Chinese language and the government would continue to push it forward.
"I hope the recipients could understand the Chinese culture better and contribute to the development of Chinese language teaching," Liu said.
The scholarship, funded by the Chinese government, is to grant more than 40,000 yuan (around 6,000 U.S. dollars) to each of the 1,000-strong applicants annually from 2009 to 2013.
The Confucius Institute Headquarters (CIH) in Beijing, which specializes in promoting Chinese language, would offer teaching instructions on the master's program.
Statistics showed around 40 million people overseas are learning Chinese. The figure is estimated to reach 100 million by 2010, putting a high demand on teachers.
"We dispatch nearly 5,000 teachers and volunteers each year to more than 100 countries, but it is still far from meeting the demands," said Xu Lin, chief executive of the CIH.
Currently, there are 282 Confucius institutes around the world, with a total of 200,000 registered learners. The nonprofit organization, named after China's ancient philosopher Confucius, was founded in 2004 to help non-native speakers learn Chinese.