Why Mandarin?

NTOKOZO NHLABATHI, chairperson of Concerned Young People of South Africa:

A departmental circular, “Circular S10 of 2015: Incremental implementation of Mandarin as a non-official language from 2016-‘18” has been distributed.

According to this circular: “The roll-out of Mandarin will be incrementally implemented in schools as follows: Gr. 4-10 will be implemented in January 2016, followed by gr. 11 in 2017 and gr. 12 in 2018.” This was signed by Paddy Padayachee, acting director-general of the Department of Education.

The two-page document ends by appealing to recipients to publicise the message to all provincial and district officials, and principals and teachers of both public and independent schools.

We wish to inform you and warn you about the current unrest at grassroots level. Parents, teachers and teacher unions, such as the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), have become increasingly restive and agitated about the way a foreign language is being forced on local people whilst African languages are being neglected.

This agitation is likely to flare up and lead to a full scale disruption of basic education in 2016 in protest against this “worst form of Imperialism” (Mail and Guardian, 12 August 2015) enforced by our government.

The deep anger and frustration concerning this circular can be traced back to our history of oppression through colonisation and apartheid in South Africa.

Previous hurts and wounds have been re-opened with memories of the oppres-sive apartheid policy when Afrikaans was forced onto other culture groups.

The new potential coloniser, China, is currently responsible for threats of people at grassroots level not to vote for Jacob Zuma because orf his betrayal of our African heritage.

Although it was stated that Mandarin is only an optional foreign language, why is Zuma burdening us with Mandarin, whilst disregarding our heritage and mother tongue?

During 2014, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) unveiled a policy to prioritise and improve African languages such as Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Tswana.

This policy was delayed because an additional 30 minutes of schoolday that would be required “would be too tiring for school children”.

Surely this decision to downgrade indigenous languages in order to teach Mandarin was not taken as a result of a request by parents.

There is something wrong somewhere.

Communities are asking why three Confucius Institutes are endeavouring to promote the Chinese culture here on home soil.

Why are our police in the Eastern Cape expected to learn Mandarin in stead of other African languages?

Why this obsession with Mandarin?

When visiting, working or studying in other countries, such as France, Germany and Poland, the people concerned study the languages of those countries.

Did Zuma’s agreement with China also include learning Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho or Venda on Chinese home soil? Or is it that he has has sold us to a foreign nation thus forcing us to learn their language?

Many people are asking whether or not Zuma has missed the fine print in the Five to Ten Year Strategic Programme for Cooperation contract, signed with the Chinese in December 2014, considering the large sums of money promised by the Chinese X money which may yet place us under bondage yet again to a foreign country?

South Africa’s democratic society is demanding answers to these undemocratic and secretive decisions. Why not publish the full Chinese contract?

The people of South Africa need to know what Zuma has agreed to with China regarding us, our children, our resources and our future. We cannot accept the unwise and irrational actions and agreements of a government headed by Zuma any longer.

The Economist has branded these actions as “Zuma’s disastrous management” and referred to South Africa as “the Hollow State”.

People are disgusted and discontented. Votes at the upcoming election will turn against the ruling party. People at grassroots have declared that they need leaders who will hear the cries of their own forgotten and forsaken people.

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