Mandarin: Official Second Language for South Africa’s Curriculum

Mandarin: Official Second Language for South Africa’s Curriculum

The Department of Basic Education has approved Mandarin to be included as part of South Africa’s school curriculum, with pupils between grades 4 to 12 having the option of taking it as a second language.

Mandarin has already been added to the South African curriculum but as a non-official language; and currently, there are six Confucius institutions in South Africa.

With the help of the Chinese government, South Africa will develop a suitable curriculum for teaching Mandarin, which will be implemented in January 2016.

Why introduce Mandarin in the South African curriculum?

In March 2014, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s spokeswomen, Troy Martens, reportedly said that China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner and that these inter-country relations need bolstering by means of educating our youth about the culture in China. She also emphasized the importance of South African children learning about Chinese sage and philosopher, Confucius’s, language.

At the time, Angie Motshekga signed an implementation plan between the Ministry of Education in China and the Department of Basic Education in South Africa, to strengthen education ties at an institutional and policy level. Part of the agreement included cultural exchange and the addition of Mandarin to the South African schools’ curriculum.

In a government notice earlier this month Martens said that the implementation plans were approved but still need to be finalized. Either way, Mandarin will be instituted at a select number of schools from 2016.

The imminent changes in curriculum are sure to bring about lots of debate, especially amongst South Africans. It is worthy to note that Troy Martens has stated that the language will in fact be taught without affecting pupils’ home language and first languages currently being taught.

Schools offering Mandarin from 2016 according to the Department of


,Fowzia Gamiet

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