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SA-China MOU on qualifications

By Sibusiso Bakana, The Diplomatic Society representative in Beijing and Wesley Seale PhD candidate at BFSU


As the end of the fall semester approached and freezing weather waded through Beijing, the boardroom in the South African embassy was characterised with long jackets hanging on chairs and warm filled the air.

DHET Deputy Minister Buti Manamela MP meets with South African students in China while engaging on the People to People Exchange Mechanism

Students, from across all backgrounds in South Africa and who are funded by different South African government international scholarships and the Chinese Scholarship Council that is facilitated by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), were present to meet their Deputy Minister, Buti Manamela.

The objective of the meeting was for the DHET leadership to witness the exciting experiences of students but also listen to the challenges faced by students in a different country, yet a country with the second largest economy in the world.

The students on the other hand were updated on, among others, the developments of a memorandum signed mid-2018, between South Africa and China, aimed at lessening student's frustrations about their qualifications being authorised and endorsed at home. Previously a tedious and worrisome process for students, they welcomed this development.

Representatives from DHET were initially somewhat sceptical of the mood of the meeting. Usually students complain, not so in this student meeting. When the Deputy Minister opened the session to students, DHET representatives were impressed with the positivity and passion with which these South African patriots praised their host country as well as being given the opportunity not only to study in China but also to be ambassadors for South Africa.

Students are confident in their experience of Chinese culture and language. In their own response to the challenges faced, the students proposed that the Deputy Minister permits them to establish a formal student body in China. They themselves wanted to solve their own problems. Problems such as assisting new scholars coming to China and helping them to settle-in to their second home and handling the possible culture and food shock.

Deputy Minister Manamela did not hesitate in agreeing with such an idea and further substantiated such an idea with its importance, including the establishment of an alumnus body. Students benefitting from the Chinese scholarship experience are willing to contribute to South Africa, once back home. An alumnus society could certainly assist South Africa, for example, in both Africanising the academic paradigm as well as the economic shift in developing our economy.

A visit to Beijing, during autumn, was appreciated by the students and, as one pointed out by a student, indicated the Deputy Minister’s willingness to support students abroad as well as showing how serious government takes them.

The Deputy Minister assured us, as students, of government’s role in ensuring that students abroad are supported because, as he said, it showed their willingness to sacrifice, to leave their home country, study abroad and yet still be willing to come back and plough back at home.

Recognition and appreciation must also go to the South African embassy staff in Beijing, especially Mr K Mosoane and Ms S Nkgapele, who facilitated and organised this meeting between DHET and the students. The engagement gave students hope and they were determined not only to fly South Africa’s flag high but also to do their best at their studies because they are determined to help build South Africa and the African continent on their return. 

By Sibusiso Bakana, The Diplomatic Society representative at Beijing and Wesley Seale PhD candidate at BFSU




February/March 2020








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