Free State education MEC Tate Makgoe (pictured below) has encouraged learners to take up Chinese language as part of their studies beginning next year in order to broaden their career prospects as the language is increasingly becoming popular across the world.
Makgoe said this at a well done function for Thabo Mofutsanyana District held at Mohaladitwe Secondary School in QwaQwa last Friday. The district produced the best results in last year’s National Senior Certificate examination obtaining a pass rate of 87.6 percent.
Chinese has many dialects, the most common of which is Mandarin. The United Nations has adopted it as one of its official languages, meaning the language now clearly shapes the context of international diplomacy, trade, and politics.
With China boasting a population of about 1.4 billion people – the largest national population on earth – it means one fifth of the world’s 7.3 billion people speak Mandarin Chinese. Further, Mandarin Chinese is the mother tongue of over 873 million people, making it the most widely spoken first language in the world.
The language is also spoken in Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Mongolia.
The economy of China has grown rapidly over the past few decades, thereby deeply impacting international economies through global trade. It is now the second largest economy in the world.
Makgoe said schools will not be forced to include this language in their syllabi, but it is a policy that South Africa has adopted, beginning January next year.
“China is a country with a fast growing economy and if we know their language we can be able to approach them for business,” said Makgoe.
There are many opportunities that learners can get from learning Chinese, such as becoming professional translators, tour guides as well as being able to further studies in that country.
It is a requirement for everyone wanting to study in China to learn the language first before pursuing their chosen field of study.
According to China’s University and College Admission System, more than 320 000 students from over 180 countries went to China in 2012 to study for either degree or non-degree programmes.
Makgoe said China was now South Africa’s biggest trading partner and it was therefore important to be able to communicate easily with the Chinese.
“We expanded our business partnership with China after our country joined the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa business partnership known as the BRICS (in April 2011),” said the MEC.
Makgoe said the Chinese language will be taught from Grade 4-12 in January in those schools that have agreed to include it in their studies.
In March last year, basic education minister Angie Motshekga signed an implementation plan between her department and the ministry of education in China. The agreement was aimed at strengthening educational ties at institutional and policy levels.
One aspect of the agreement included cultural exchange and promoting the teaching of Mandarin in South African schools.
According to Motshekga, there are currently six Confucius institutions promoting Chinese culture in South Africa. She said with the help of the Chinese government, a curriculum for the teaching of Chinese will be developed and offered in some schools around the country.
Named after a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher called Confucius, the institutions are non-profit public centres affiliated to China’s ministry of education.
Their main aim is to promote Chinese language and culture, support the teaching of Chinese internationally and facilitate cultural exchanges.
Thabo Mofutsanyana district has a total of 22 schools that achieved a 100 percent pass rate, 11 of which were disadvantaged schools.