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Department of Basic Education launches Mandarin courses for its officials

(People's Daily Online)  Sissy Zhang  2016-09-23 10:14


The Launching Ceremony of Chinese Language and Culture Training Program for South African Department of Basic Education in Pretoria on Sep 6th, 2016. (Picture: People’s Daily Online / Zhang Jiexian)

With more than 200 agreements worth 50.8 billion US dollars signed between Africa and China, Chinese language skills could be a door opener to various opportunities for South Africans. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) launches Mandarin course for its 20 officials on Thursday, in which they are going to learn Chinese language and culture for 60 hours in 20 weeks.

Six South African departments have roll out Mandarin courses so far, including Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Trade and Investment, Science and Technology, SA Police Service, Tourism and Basic Education.

“This course will not be easy, especially when you already have a lot to do at workplace, but I assure you this will be a rewarding experience and will make your efforts worthwhile.” said Li Song, Charge d'Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa in the launching ceremony of the training program for DBE on Tuesday.

As Li told the officials, the command of the Chinese language would be more than just a hobby for pastime. “There will be a great deal of opportunities to put your Chinese language skills into productive use.” He said.

SA government has included Chinese as a second foreign language in the National Education Curriculum in March last year. Pilot programs have been carried out in 13 primary and secondary schools across the Gauteng Province. Textbooks and multimedia materials has been donated to these schools. By the end of this year, the number of pilot schools is expected to rise to around 20.

Speaking of the purpose to promote Chinese language studying, the Minister of DBE, Angie Motshekga said she wanted African children to be as competitive as Chinese in the global society.

“Education is about what you think about yourself, what you think about the world that inspires you to do things differently.” Motshekga said, “And it is through language that you learn quite a number of things.”
Motshekga has led delegations to China twice in the past three years to
promoting educational exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

According to Li, China will work closely with the department to find best Chinese experts to team up with their SA counterparts for textbooks compilations for courses such as Chinese language, mathematics, science and technology, and history.