Cape Town - A task team has been set up to give life to an agreement to introduce Mandarin as a recognised subject in schools.

According the Department of Basic Education’s website, the team will be mandated to design a curriculum and determine whether Mandarin would be introduced at a first additional or second additional language level, or both.

Earlier this year, the Cape Argus reported that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga visited China where an implementation plan was signed by her department and the ministry of education in China.

Her department said that as China was South Africa’s biggest trading partner, it was important for children “to become proficient in the Confucius language and develop a good understanding of Chinese culture”.

Considering the success of the Chinese education system, the department hoped to learn from it about areas such as teacher training.

On June 6, following a conference in Pretoria on teaching Mandarin and cultural exchanges, it was agreed that a task team would be established to iron out the details of introducing Mandarin as a subject.

The team would include officials from the department, the Chinese embassy, South African-Chinese cultural institutions and schools that offered Mandarin as an addition to the curriculum.

Motshekga’s spokeswoman, Troy Martens, said the plan was in its early stages. Mandarin would not be compulsory and would be aimed at schools that had the capacity to implement the language. African languages would remain a priority.

A few Western Cape schools already offer Mandarin.

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Cape Argus