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SA designates National Chinese Language Day

Chinese Ambassador Lin Songtian announced the designation of September 17th as 'South African Chinese Language Day,' which will be celebrated annually. Picture:Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Tshwane - Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga hailed China's contribution to education in South Africa at the "Chinese Language Teaching in South Africa Gala Night" in Tshwane on Monday. Motshekga and Chinese Ambassador Lin Songtian used the occasion to announce the designation of September 17th as 'South African Chinese Language Day,' which will be celebrated annually.

In 2015 Motshekga took the decision to include Chinese in South Africa's national education system as a second additional language. China is also actively introducing South African language teaching in their own country. The Beijing Foreign Studies University, China's top foreign language study university, has opened 84 foreign language teaching programs, including Zulu, and Tswana, Xhosa and Sotho.

The Confucius Institutes in South Africa were a major focus of the gala event. South Africa has the largest number of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in Africa.

"Our two countries have jointly set up six Confucius Institutes and three Confucius Classrooms in South Africa. Chinese language courses are offered in 45 primary and secondary schools, with over 7,100 primary and secondary school students, 1,300 college students and more than 450 learners," Ambassador Lin Songtian said.

Confucius Institutes have played a key role in inter-school cooperation, and greatly enhanced mutual understanding and cooperation between the universities and young peoples of both countries.

"The Confucius Institute of the University of Johannesburg has set up the China Research Center and is actively discussing joint construction of a national key science and technology laboratory," Ambassador Lin said.

"The Confucius Institute of the Durban University of Technology is oriented to serving the employment needs of the local community, cooperating with local Chinese enterprises to carry out skills training and vocational education. In addition, the Confucius Institute of the University of the Western Cape promotes traditional medical education, and combines traditional Chinese medicine with local medical research in Africa."

Studying in China has increasingly become a new choice and fashion for South African young students. As of the end of 2018, the number of South African students studying in China has rapidly increased from over 400 people in 2014, to more than 3 000.

Each year the Chinese government provides more than 100 government scholarships to South Africa. The Chinese government has added 31 new scholarships for South African students studying in China for the 2018-2019 school year.

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