South Africa has signed an agreement with China that could help the Department of Basic Education improve results in maths, science and technology.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga last week oversaw the signing of an implementation plan with the Chinese education ministry following a collaboration agreement between President Jacob Zuma and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, last March.
South Africa is also hoping to get lessons from China on curriculum development and implementation; teacher training and development; vocational education and training; and research and development to improve basic education.
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Another aspect of the agreement is a cultural exchange and the promotion of the Chinese language, with the aim of teaching Mandarin in South African schools.
"What is especially encouraging is the work we will be undertaking together in the field of mathematics, science and technology, where we have seen China excel," Ms Motshekga said.
"We hope to learn from the Chinese experience through the exchange of knowledge and human capital, which we believe will be extremely beneficial. The signing of the implementation plan with the Chinese education minister - has cemented this agreement and we look forward to working - together towards quality education for all in our respective countries."
South Africa has strong economic ties with China. This year the two governments plan to extend their relations beyond trade into areas of mutual development. Education is a priority for both countries and this implementation plan is centred on strengthening education ties at an institutional and policy level. There are six Confucius institutions in South Africa and the department said that, with the help of the Chinese government, a curriculum for the teaching of Chinese will be developed that will be offered in some schools. This will help to build on the already solid foundation of friendship and collaboration between the two countries.
"As South Africa’s biggest trading partner, it is important for our children to become proficient in the Chinese language and develop a good understanding of Chinese culture," said Ms Motshekga.
"The exchange of both learners and professionals opens many additional doors of co-operation on a number of levels and lays the foundation for the development of the new emerging world economy. This - requires strong and high-performing educational systems as a prerequisite for success.
"As developing countries we understand each other’s challenges and can work together to find the solutions," she said.