News / Africa

    South Africa Welcomes Chinese Language, Influence in Schools

    FILE - Schoolchildren attend classes at the Sacred Heart College in Johannesburg.
    FILE - Schoolchildren attend classes at the Sacred Heart College in Johannesburg.
    Anita Powell
    South Africa's education minister says the nation of 11 official languages will introduce Mandarin into its school curriculum. The move is part of a greater effort to get closer to major trading partner China, and has been criticized and welcomed.  

    If you want to say hello in South Africa, you have no shortage of options in this nation of 11 official languages.  It’s "sawubona" in Zulu, "hallo" in Afrikaans and "dumelang" [in the plural form] in Setswana. And, of course, there is always, "hello."  

    But now, South Africa’s education ministry hopes to add another language to this polyglot nation, by saying "ni hao" to Mandarin Chinese.

    An agreement this month between the two nations focuses on five areas of cooperation: curriculum development, math and science, teacher training, vocational education, and research and development in basic education.

    New partnership

    Ministry of Basic Education Spokeswoman Troy Martens said the new partnership is extremely valuable to both countries, though officials have not said how much the initiative will cost.

    ”It is very exciting because it takes the relationship between South Africa and China beyond just trade relations, and into the mutual development for both of our developing countries," said Martens. "So it is very exciting and both countries have indicated that for them education is a high priority, and that is why education is high on the agenda of collaboration between the two countries.”

    The aspect of the plan that has garnered the most attention is a Mandarin language roll-out in schools.

    A Pew study last year found South Africans have mixed feelings about China.  The survey showed 46 percent of South Africans did not like the spread of Chinese ideas and customs in their country, and 60 percent dislike Chinese music, movies and television.

    Martens said the market, though, trumps those feelings.

    ”China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner," noted Martens. "So it is extremely beneficial to learners in South Africa to be exposed to the Mandarin language as well as Chinese culture.

    "Now this will not be compulsory, it will not be for every school, and it will not be for every child," she added. "But for schools that feel they have the capacity to offer Mandarin as a subject, we think it is a great opportunity for South African learners to be exposed to this international type of language.”

    Mandarin studies

    South Africa’s census does not say how many native Chinese speakers there are in this country of nearly 51 million people, though they are likely somewhere within the 830,000 South Africans who told census-takers their first language was not among the 12 most popular.

    Principal Lisette Noonan heads the Pretoria Chinese School, a kindergarten-to-grade-12 private school of about 500 students in the capital, Pretoria. Every student there studies Mandarin.

    Noonan said the school, which has been around for 80 years, welcomes the new collaboration between the two nations.

    ”We were quite excited by the announcement. We do believe that it is in the best interests of children to know Mandarin, especially with China becoming such a huge economic power in the world,” she said.

    South African schools suffer from the legacy of apartheid, which just two decades ago intentionally gave inferior education to the majority of the population. China has in that time drastically expanded its education system, and last year the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranked students in Shanghai as the world’s top scorers in reading, science and mathematics.

    South Africa hopes the alliance will not only better South African students, but also bring them some of China’s success.

    You May Like

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.