UWI gets new $667m Confucius Institute
The Confucius Institute at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, tasked to promote the learning of Mandarin, is banking on plans to expand its reach with a new, larger facility.
The institute was the first to be opened in the Caribbean in July 2010 after being handed over by then Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping in 2009.
At the handover ceremony for the new facility yesterday, UWI Deputy Principal Ian Boxill said it was a symbol of the strengthened ties between China and the Caribbean.
“We are happy to witness the culmination of this project in the year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Confucius Institute at Mona and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.”
Boxill said many Jamaicans have a limited understanding of Chinese culture, but commended the team at the institute for the work they have done over the last decade to expand local knowledge.
“The Mandarin classes, film shows, seminars, conferences and exchange opportunities have served as critical spaces for promoting cross-cultural understanding and revisiting how we see each other in this increasingly globalised world.
“I believe that this new building will serve to strengthen the institute’s ability to fulfil its mandate and more persons will become able to comfortably access its offerings, and so we look forward to the success of the decades to come,” said Boxill.
Chinese Ambassador Tian Qi used the opportunity to highlight that Confucius is an important figure not only in China but also in the wider world.
“He was the founder of public education in China. He was the first teacher in China. He advocated for the principle of no social distinction in education. That means equal opportunity for everyone, no matter poor or rich,” Tian reflected.
The ambassador said he was confident that the institute would be the “best one, biggest one in all the Caribbean”.
In his remarks, Junior Education Minister Alando Terrelonge urged attendees not to forget the bond being built between both nations.
“Let us remember, just as Confucius did, that those of us who are placed in positions of power must ensure that we take care of those who are within our charge. This institute of Confucius is here to teach us all not just the principles of Confucius but how Chinese societies have developed for several millennia,” Terrelonge said.
The National Education Trust acted as liaison for the project, which was funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
The building was constructed at cost of US$4.9 million (J$667 million) and includes a lecture theatre, conference room, training room, library, storeroom, reception centre, classrooms, tea break areas, offices, and display areas. It is also equipped with the tools to facilitate video conferencing.
The institute is open to the general public and also provides services to businesses and civil communities.