Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, along with Mr Li Song, Chargé d ’Affairs of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in South Africa, officially launched a Mandarin Teaching Programme at the DBE in Pretoria on 06 September 2016. During 2015, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) announced that Mandarin will be offered as an elective foreign language in South Africa from 2016. Nineteen officials from the DBE were therefore offered Mandarin teaching for a period of 20 weeks, as part of the bilateral agreement and co-operation between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa in the field of basic education. The agreement allows for a new group of officials to enrol every 6 months.
The DBE and the Chinese Culture and International Education Exchange Centre signed a Declaration of Intent to ensure that Mandarin Language teaching is offered at the DBE since the Department is the lead facilitator of the partnership between South Africa and China in the basic education sector. This agreement will also assist officials to access opportunities offered in and by China as the country is fast becoming one of South Africa’s largest trading partners and those officials who are fluent in Mandarin would be able to have access to increased opportunities and strengthen ties, both culturally and economically, between the two nations.
Speaking during the launch, Minister Motshekga said, “This partnership is an indication that education is a fundamental and integral part of the broader relations between the two countries. Through this co-operation agreement, both parties will continue to forge close mutual technical co-operation in teacher development and exchange expertise in the field of education, particularly in critical fields such as Mathematics, Science and Technology. We are also committed to work together to introduce the teaching of Mandarin in South African schools”. Mr Song conveyed his gratitude, saying: “I would like to thank Minister Motshekga and the DBE for all the support in promoting the Chinese language and culture in South Africa.”