Confucius Institute leads high school principals to China
For the second time, and on a much larger scale, a delegation of high school principals has visited China as part of the mandate of the Confucius Institute, at the University of the West Indies, to impart Chinese language (Mandarin) and culture to Jamaicans.
Led by Professor Lu Shaogang, Chinese director of the Confucius Institute, the delegation included principals Heather Murray of Hampton School; Nadine Molloy, Ardenne High; Heather Reid-Johnson, St Hilda's Diocesan; Hazel Cameron, Clan Carthy; Esther Tyson, Tarrant High; Coleen Montague, Wolmers' Girls; Dr Walton Small, Wolmers' Boys; Lloyd Fearon, Dinthill Technical High; and Albert Corcho of Calabar High.
The purpose of this trip, which took place from May May 22 to June 2, was to familiarise leaders in secondary education with the wider work of the Confucius Institute, to introduce contemporary China, and to observe how secondary schools in China are administered and what methodologies are employed in the educating process.
According to the institute, it was hoped that secondary school leaders would understand the context in which Jamaican students might be taught Chinese Mandarin, why the Jamaican student may opt for higher studies in China, as well as the importance of partnering with the Confucius Institute in establishing affiliated Confucius classrooms in local secondary institutions.
During their stay in China, the principals were hosted by the College of International Education Exchange (Taiyuan University of Technology) with which the UWI partners.
They visited cultural locations such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, as well as secondary schools in Taiyuan City and Hanban (Confucius Institute Headquarters) in Beijing.
"We will not forget the mantra, 'one more language, one more chance'," the principals jointly said of their visit.
"This was reflected in the value given to each student learning not only Chinese but also English. We were impressed with the number of hours students spent each day in learning as against being taught. Students and teachers seemed to recognise that education was the path to economic success."
They added: "We noted the high level of discipline displayed by the students. This amazed us, coming from a context where discipline continues to be a challenge among many of our students.
"Not only were we impressed with the students but also with the teaching methodology. Teachers used a combination of traditional methods with integration of technology to instruct the students. In all classes that we visited, the teachers seemed prepared and the students were engaged. We noted that students did a limited number of subjects but which gave them the base for higher levels of learning... ."
The Confucius Institute at the UWI said it would continue to organise such visits to China, cognisant of the fact that "China has emerged as an important voice on the international platform, but equally aware that she has an immense, ancient understanding of the world to be shared".
The institute added: "We welcome participation from principals of high schools as we continue to blossom into a national institution that may truly come into the possession of the Jamaican citizen.
"It is hoped that the pursuit of knowledge by our young would be encouraged. For knowledge extends and define the self. It is not the intention of the UWI Confucius Institute to have every Jamaican child speaking Mandarin. Yet, is it the intention of our institute to provide those so interested with the opportunity for deeper engagement."