Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, met with the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in South Africa, His Excellency Mr Chen Xiaodong at the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria on 6 May 2022. The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China heeded a call from the International Relations and Multilateral Affairs Directorate to international partners to garner support in the relief efforts towards the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) flooding disaster. A donation amounting to R200,000 was subsequently received by Minister Motshekga during the official handover ceremony.
The recent storms and subsequent flooding in KZN has resulted in the loss of many lives and damage to infrastructure. Minister Motshekga visited the province during the week of 19 April 2022, to meet with KZN Education MEC, Mr Kwazi Mshengu, and senior officials from the Provincial Education Department to assess, first-hand, the extent of the damage caused to various schools in the province. Some of the damage reported at schools include structural and roof damage; leaking roofs and flooded classrooms; furniture damage; blocked drainage systems; damage to electrical works; and collapsing mobile classrooms with approximately 630 provincial schools having been affected.
“The People’s Republic of China would like to express our deepest sympathy to South Africans and to the education sector in particular for the sad loss of lives, infrastructure and damage to schools. We are also looking forward to ongoing collaboration to assist the sector with the rebuilding and rebooting of learning and teaching post-COVID-19 as we have been doing through our various programmes,” said Ambassador Xiaodong during the ceremony.
China was declared South Africa’s strategic partner in 2010 through the Beijing Declaration on the Establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. One of the pillars of the strategy is the People-to-people Exchanges and Cooperation. In responding to the strategic mandate, South Africa and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the Field of Basic Education. The MoU was signed in March 2013, during the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Summit in South Africa held in Durban. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Chinese Ministry of Education further signed an Implementation plan on the MoU on 24 February 2014, in Beijing, China.
In addition, South Africa and China recently amended the 10 Year Strategic Programme, reflecting a heightened cooperation on Mathematics, Science, Technology and Vocational Education. Both sides welcomed the signing of The Letter of Intent between the Department of Basic Education and the China Higher Education Press regarding the development of Chinese Language Textbooks for teaching the Chinese Language as a Second Additional Language in South African public schools with support from the Chinese Government. South Africa welcomed the inclusion of Chinese Language teaching in its national education system, and designated 17 September as South Africa’s “Chinese Language Day”.
During the ceremony, the Minister informed the Ambassador that many schools have lost everything and the donation will be used to assist re-establishing basic functionality at a few of these schools.
Minister Motshekga further expressed her gratitude for the excellent collaboration and the various generous donations that have been made by the People’s Republic of China during the past years. These include the donation of planetarium equipment to Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in 2016. In addition, Marhulana Primary School in Thembisa received a donation of 15 computers, as well as sports equipment for the school. Most recently, the Embassy donated an amount of R1 Million, as part of COVID-19 relief efforts. The Northern Cape Department of Education was identified as a recipient for this donation and seven schools within the Pixley ka Seme District Municipality became beneficiaries of the donation, with the installation of water tanks being completed in November 2020. On 10 August 2020, the Chinese Embassy supported the Department of Basic Education’s Maths, Science and Technology Categories of the National Teaching Awards by donating R1,140 000 prize money.