Your Excellency, the Ambassador of China to South Africa, Mr Tian Xuejun;
The Director of the Chinese Culture and International Education Exchange Centre; Dr Lu and Co-Director Prof Li
Circuit Manager for Circuit 3 in Tshwane, Mr Andries Nkadimeng;
Our gracious host, the Principal of the Willowridge High School, Mr Rowan Phillips;
Distinguished Officials from the Embassy of China in SA, the Chinese Culture and International Education Exchange Centre, the GDE, and the DBE;
Teachers, Admin staff and all learners present here today.
I greet you all.
It is an honour and real privilege for me to address you today as we reach yet another milestone in the Co-operation Agreement between ourselves, and the People’s Republic of China – the official donation of smartboards and textbooks to ten schools by the People‘s Republic of China. This is a small but very significant step signifying the importance we both attach to the wall-to-wall implementation of the Co-operation Agreement.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Ministry of Education in China, the Embassy of China in South Africa, and the Chinese Culture and International Education Exchange Centre; for continuing to work tirelessly with our Ministry of Basic Education in South Africa to grow our partnership from strength to strength each year.
Indeed, our bilateral relationship with China has grown into one of the most vibrant international partnerships supporting the South Africa basic education sector to date.
Similarly, South Africa and China are strategic partners in many other respects, and we have seen the relationship grow significantly both politically and in socio-economic perspectives, since the establishment of the formal diplomatic relations in 1998.
When we signed the bilateral agreement between the Ministry of Basic Education in South Africa and the Ministry of Education in China, exactly four years ago, in March 2013, we cemented what turned out to be a blossoming bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the field of basic education. The agreement is a firm indication that education is a fundamental an integral part of the broader relations between the two countries.
Ambassador, I am therefore quite heartened that we are able to gather here today, on the 4th Anniversary of our formal bilateral cooperation to witness yet another valued contribution to the South African basic education sector by the Chinese Government.
I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the anniversary of our cooperation than in the presence of the very teachers and children who are immediate beneficiaries of your contribution to this country.
And for this, Ambassador, I thank you. I thank you for making this day happen, and more importantly, I thank you for your leadership, and for having been a pioneer in providing a much needed platform of exchange between our two countries. This is indeed a relationship we deeply cherish.
Ambassador, I have been informed that you have now completed your term in South Africa and will be leaving our shores in a short while. Hard as it is to bid you farewell, we are comforted by the impressive legacy that you leave behind, a legacy that will be remembered by ourselves; and enjoyed by South African children for many years to come.
Under your stewardship:
- We saw Mandarin introduced as a second additional language in South African schools, and welcomed a Chinese Language expert, and a number of Chinese Teachers to implement the Chinese language curriculum in our schools.
- We launched training of DBE officials on Mandarin
- We received a Planetarium in 2016 located at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre.
- In 2017, the President of South Africa received computers, desks and chairs for the computer lab of the Marhulana Primary School in Tembisa.
- Your government hosted several delegations of members of the executive committee, officials, school principals, teachers and school children.
- In turn we also hosted several delegations from China, including the esteemed former Vice-Minister of Education in China, Mr Du Yubo; for valuable exchanges as we worked together towards improving our respective education systems.
- Over the past few years, we received a number of bursaries for South African learners identified by the DBE to take up further studies in China, at the full expense of the Chinese government.
Today, we are honoured to receive a donation of smart boards and language books to 10 schools represented here today.
Your Excellency, these are just but some of the achievements gained during your term and indeed the fruits of your commitment to forging mutual cooperation between our two countries – all done for the good of our children as well as building blocks for the growth of our respective economies.
I can assure you Ambassador that we remain committed to working with the Embassy to continue building from where you left off. So that in the future when you visit South Africa again you can still be proud of the fruits of this partnership.
On that note, Your Excellency, We dare not say goodbye – but instead - we say – till we meet again!
Programme Director, you will agree with me that the use of ICTs in education, is increasingly becoming an important medium for complementing the delivery of curriculum in most developing countries, and most definitely for our country. Therefore, the continuous and valued contribution by the Chinese government, to assist South Africa in placing key ICT devices in the hands of our teachers and learners; such as the Smart Boards being donated today has the potential to break the digital divide and indeed assist us in improving the ICT professional development of all teachers involved.
Your Excellency, as you know, I have visited China a number of times, and was able to see for myself why China has been reported to be among the top performing countries in the field of mathematics, science and technology. I hope that going forward, our respective ministries can work together to strengthen our cooperation in this field so that South Africa can learn from you in our quest to improve participation and success rates in mathematics, science, and technology.
As partners, we also committed to work together towards to upscale the teaching of Mandarin in South African schools. As you know in 2015, my Ministry announced that from 2016, Mandarin would be offered as an elective foreign language in South Africa. This for us was a significant step towards building more understanding and eradicating cultural barriers between our two countries.
Programme Director; because we do business together and are also partners in important multilateral forums, it is only fitting that we break the language barriers that might hinder our joint efforts towards building our respective economies.
On the other hand, the potential for young South Africans in the world is endless; offering Mandarin is one more way to give South African learners an edge in the global economic playing field. China is fast becoming one of South Africa’s largest trading partners, and young people who are fluent in Mandarin would be able to have access to increased opportunities.
That is why it is very heartening for me to see the fruits of the Mandarin language programme today, through performances by the learners and teachers that have been participating in different programmes.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank the Gauteng Department of Education, the Tshwane District, and all the Teachers and Principals of the 10 Schools represented here today – for taking the lead in piloting the Mandarin teaching Programme – and exposing our learners to a bigger world than readily visible to them.
Last but not least to my beautiful learners gathered here with us - out there in the big world there are big opportunities just waiting for you to work hard enough to find them and live your best life!!
So, go ahead and make South Africa proud! May the World Be Your Oyster!!!
I thank you