SA schools to teach Mandarin

11 November 2015 - 02:39 By Shenaaz Jamal, Neo Goba and Aarti J Narsee

Mandarin will be taught in South Africa next year but those who opt to take it can rest easy as the language will not be examined. Speaking in the Gauteng legislature yesterday, Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi confirmed the subject would be offered but said it would not be compulsory or examined.Lesufi said Mandarin will be taught to pupils who sign up for it and schools will decide whether to incorporate it into the curriculum or teach it after school hours.But it will not be forced on any school or pupil."The introduction of Mandarin will be implemented as a non-official language and only [offered] in a select number of public schools. It is a matter of adding Mandarin to the other 14 foreign languages already taught in the country."According to Lesufi, local teachers interested in teaching the language will be trained at no cost by 100 Mandarin-speaking Chinese who will be deployed by the Chinese government.China will also undertake to foot all costs involved.Mandisa Mashego, Economic Freedom Fighters' member of the Gauteng legislature, criticised the move, saying it was " a continuation of cultural and economic domination [by foreigners] and undermining of our very own languages that have been underdeveloped by the black elective government".Lesufi said the aim was not to impose or replace other languages or diminish the dominant languages of African cultures but to widen pupils' choice in learning foreign languages.In Western Cape there are 14 pupils from seven schools who take Mandarin as a subject.Western Cape basic education department distanced itself from the decision ."If schools in Western Cape wish to teach Mandarin, they will need to fund this post themselves. We simply do not have the budget," said Jessica Shelver, spokesman Western Cape MEC for basic education Debbie Shafer.Earlier yesterday Lesufi said Gauteng was ready for the 2016 school year. He said parents who were unhappy about the outcome of their applications to schools should complete an objection form - which is available at all schools - and submit it to the district director within seven days of receiving written confirmation of the outcome of their application.Parents have until November 30 to apply to schools in the province.

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