Peddie - Chinese ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian has warned that the country could battle to benefit meaningfully from the fourth industrial revolution if education is not prioritised.
Over the weekend, Lin visited various parts of the Eastern Cape where he donated more than 40 computers, over 1000 school bags and more than 500 shoes to different schools.
Speaking in Peddie in Ngqushwa Municipality, where he donated the shoes to 500 pupils from five different schools, Lin said education was the key to addressing South Africa's many challenges, including poverty.
"We have to contribute in the ways we can so that children can be able to go to school and become something. To someone who is rich, the shoes mean nothing but to someone who is poor, the shoes mean something.
"I grew up in a poor home and in a poor province in China, and I know what it is like to be without shoes," Songtian said.
On Monday, Lin also visited Pendla Primary School in New Brighton in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, where he donated 570 school bags, two computers and R49 000 in scholarship, on top of the boundary fence he had sponsored to the schools, which is one of the oldest in the township.
"There is fourth industrial revolution now and South Africa is the key to the continent. Without education, you cannot benefit from the fourth industrial revolution," he said.
The biggest beneficiaries of the donations by the Chinese Embassy were however pupils from the newly build Clarkson Primary School in Hummansdorp, where Lin donated 40 computers, 660 school bags and R100 000 worth of books.
"When I came here I was very impressed with the school. They showed me the their computer lab and the library. It was very beautiful, but there was no computers and there was no books," he said.
The total cost of the donation to the school alone stood at more than R800 000.
China is South Africa's biggest trading partner and Songtian said his involvement in community upliftment initiatives was a product of the warm bilateral relations between the two countries, which are also part of the BRICS economic bloc.
"We united together with the people of South Africa in the fight against apartheid. Now we should join forces in the fight against poverty and for our common development. Education is the key in that," he said.
Also accompanying Lin and his delegation on Monday was International Relations deputy director general and Chief of Protocol, Nonceba Losi, who had asked the embassy to make the donations to Clarkson Primary School and Pendla Primary School.
"I cannot thank ambassador Lin enough. These donations mean a lot for these children. I grew up here in New Brighton and with the right support and education, these pupils can also dream big and become something," Losi said.