South Africa to introduce Mandarin in schools after agreement with China

mandarin Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga has overseen the signing of an implementation plan between the Ministry of Education in China and the Department of Basic Education in South Africa in Beijing this week.

This follows the signing of a collaboration agreement between the two countries Presidents in March last year, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited South Africa.

2014 has also been declared the year of South Africa in China with the understanding that the two countries share excellent international relations and wish to extend their relationship beyond trade into areas of mutual development. Education is a priority imperative for both countries and this implementation plan is centred around strengthening education ties at an institutional and policy level.

Bearing in mind the successes of the Chinese Education System, the Department of Basic Education (DBE), wish to learn more about the following key areas to improve Education outcomes in South Africa, with a special focus on Maths, Science and Technology.

1. Curriculum Development and Implementation

2. Mathematics, Science and Technology Education

3. Teacher Training and Development

4. Vocational Education and Training

5. Research and Development to improve basic education

Minister Motshekga delivered a Speech to Education students, academics and diplomats at the East China Normal University in Shanghai, in her speech she made reference to the challenges being experienced in South Africa in the area of Mathematics and Science education.

“It is for this reason that we are thrilled to be here in China as we begin to fulfil the agreement signed by our two respective Presidents in March last year. The agreement speaks to collaboration between our countries in a number of areas, but for us what is especially encouraging is the work we will be undertaking together in the field of mathematics, science and technology, where we have seen China excel. We hope to learn from the Chinese experience through the exchanges of knowledge and human capital, which we believe will be extremely beneficial. The signing of the implementation plan with the Chinese Minister of Education this past Monday has cemented this agreement and we look forward to working practically together towards quality education for all in our respective countries,” said Motshekga.

This collaboration allows SA to benchmark itself with the best in the world with a view of making sure that it is on par.

The Department has already identified areas for strategic partnership. In line with strengthening our participation and success rate in mathematics, science and technology we will be working with China to provide the requisite equipment and reposition our institutional arrangements to deliver in this area.

We are also in a process of reviewing our national curriculum statement to improve our split between the academic and vocational streams with the intention of encouraging more schools in the system to offer vocational subjects.

The Minister was impressed to see China had already succeeded in achieving a 50- 50 split in this regard, and believes that we can learn a lot from each other to strengthen our efforts.

The Minister visited the Chinese National Institute of Educational Sciences as the department begins to implement the recommendations of the MST task team by setting up our own Mathematics and Science office with the view of developing it into an institute outside the bureaucracy of the Department. This proved helpful to view the manner in which the Institute relates to the government department as well as the organisational arrangement of the Institute.

The Minister also visited schools in Shanghai to see how policy translates into implementation at a provincial and school level and was extremely impressed at the calibre of research and creativity being expressed by Chinese learners in the areas of Mathematics, Science and Technology.

Another aspect of the Agreement cultural exchange and the promotion of the Chinese language, Mandarin being taught in South African schools. There are currently six Confucius institutions in South Africa and with the help of the Chinese Government a curriculum for the teaching of Chinese will be developed to be offered in some schools around the country. This will assist with building on the already solid foundation of friendship and collaboration between our two countries. As South Africa’s biggest trading partner it is important for our children to become proficient in the Confucius language and develop a good understanding of Chinese culture.

“The exchange of both learners and professionals opens many additional doors of cooperation on a number of levels and lays the foundation for the development of the new emerging world economy. This new world requires strong and high performing educational systems as a prerequisite for success. As developing countries we understand each other’s challenges and can work together to find the solutions,” said Motshekga. – Department of Basic Eduction Media Statement