Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has issued a circular to national and provincial education authorities informing them that Mandarin will be introduced in local public schools as of January 2016.
This is despite strong disapproval from the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu). The teacher union has strongly expressed opposition to the plan, equating it to a new form of colonisation.
Sadtu has been vocal about the need to prioritise African languages in the country, in an effort to improve social cohesion.
CapeTalk Presenter Pippa Hudson spoke with Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Shafer who stressed that Mandarin will be offered as an optional subject in public schools.
According to Shafer, the introduction will be the responsibility of state schools who are interested and can afford to teach the Chinese language.
We can only introduce what we have teachers for and what there is a demand for. At the moment our priority is to increase African language teaching, because its more directly relevant to South Africa. But even for that, we don't have sufficient teachers.— Debbie Shafer, Western Cape Education MEC
Following the signing of bilateral agreements between South Africa and China, Motshekga initially announced the intentions to teach Mandarin in local schools last year.
Listen to the full conversation, with Pippa Hudson standing in, on Breakfast with Kieno Kammies: