Mandarin to Be Offered in SA State Schools

Pupils at South African schools will be able to choose Mandarin as an additional language from January 2016.

A government notice approving the listing of the Chinese language as part of the school curriculum was issued by the Department of Basic Education on 20 March.

Mandarin has been added to the curriculum as a subject choice for pupils in grades 4 to 9 as a non-official language. Other language choices in the same category include German, Serbian, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, Tamil, Telegu and Urdu.

Mandarin will be instituted at a select number of schools from January 2016.

The decision was taken because China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner and it would help strengthen relations, department spokesperson Elija Mhlanga said.

“In fact, even before this, there were schools in South Africa that were offering this language as an option and what we’re saying now is that all schools that can do so, should do so, provided they have the resources,” Eyewitness News quotes him as saying.

The Department of Basic Education signed an implementation plan with the Ministry of Education in March last year aimed at strengthening educational ties at an institutional and policy level.

“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,” Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said in an address to students at East China Normal University in Shanghai last year.

“We hope to learn from the Chinese experience through the exchanges of knowledge and human capital, which we believe will be extremely beneficial,” the minister said.

Another aspect of the agreement includes cultural exchange and the promotion of 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,” Motshekga said.