The partnership on Mandarin language teaching in South African pilot schools between the Republic of South Africa and the People’s Republic of China has been maturing. Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, and the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa, Mr Tian Xuejun, officially handed over Mandarin language teaching equipment and textbooks to Willowridge High School, and nine other schools, in Pretoria on 06 March 2017.
South Africa and China signed several agreements on co-operation in different fields, including a Co-operation Agreement in the field of Basic Education, signed on 26 March 2013 during the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Summit in South Africa. The partnership between the two parties forms part of a strategic programme signed during President Jacob Zuma’s state visit to China on 04 December 2014.
Through the Co-operation Agreement between South Africa and China, both parties committed to forge close mutual technical collaboration, teacher training and expertise exchanges in the field of education, particularly in critical fields such as Mathematics, Science and Technology, as building blocks for the growth of knowledge economies in the respective countries. The Agreement also commits parties to work together in introducing Mandarin language teaching in South Africa. The Department has since introduced Mandarin as an elective foreign language in the South African school curriculum. Ambassador Tian Xuejun said that the implementation of Mandarin language teaching in South Africa will enable the partnership to grow even stronger.
In her address, Minister Motshekga thanked the People’s Republic of China for their co-operation on educational issues: “Our bilateral relationship with China has grown into one of the most vibrant international partnerships supporting the South African basic education sector to date,” remarked the Minister. Minister Motshekga further added that it is critical to break the language and cultural barriers that might hinder progress in building the economies of the two countries. “The potential for the global economic empowerment of our young South Africans is endless; offering Mandarin is a way of giving our learners an edge in the global economic playing field. China is fast becoming one of the South Africa’s largest trading partners, and young people who are fluent in Mandarin would be able to have access to increased opportunities,” concluded Minister Motshegka.