A total number of 500 schools in South Africa will offer Mandarin as a second additional language in the next five years, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Wednesday.
There are currently 15 schools in the country offering Mandarin, the minister said in a written reply to a parliamentary question.
“In the next five years, it is envisaged that 500 schools will offer Mandarin as a second additional language,” Motshekga said.
“One hundred teachers will be sent to China per year for purposes of methodological and cultural enrichment,” she said.
The roll-out of Mandarin teaching was incrementally implemented in schools with Grades 4-9 and 10 in January 2016, to be followed by Grade 11 in 2017 and Grade 12 in 2018, according to the Department of Basic Education.
Under the South African Schools Act of 1996, education is compulsory for all South Africans from the age of seven (grade 1) to age 15, or the completion of grade 9. Further Education and Training takes place from grades 10 to 12.
Currently, schools offering Mandarin are in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, according to the department.
Schools in other provinces will follow suit, it added.
The Chinese government will donate 2, 000 textbooks to assist in teaching mandarin in schools until a South African textbook is developed, Motshekga said earlier.
Mandarin is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world.