Learning Chinese Language And Culture Can Deliver Real Benefits For Young People Says O’Dowd

Increasing the opportunities available for local young people to learn Mandarin Chinese can bring significant cultural and economic benefits.

Education Minister John O’Dowd today met Ms Shuying Wang, the Chinese Consul General, to discuss ways to enhance business and educational links with China.

dn_screenSpeaking about the meeting, the Minister said: “There is no doubt that China is one of the world’s principal powers and its influence, both economic and cultural, can be felt right across the world. There has been a sizeable and vibrant Chinese community in the north for several decades, and China is considered by the Executive to be an area of potential major growth for trade and direct investment.

“I was very pleased to meet the Chinese Consul General for the first time today and to discuss with her areas of common interest, including how we can boost the availability of Chinese as a learning option for local young people.

“The Ulster University has already done excellent work in this regard, its Confucius Institute being responsible for establishing eight hubs in schools across the north. These hubs are centres for the teaching of Mandarin Chinese among partner schools in their respective local areas, with children in both the primary and post-primary phase benefitting. Teaching ranges from beginner level right through to GCSE and A level. In 2012/13 three schools had pupils who sat GCSE Chinese and 10 schools had pupils who sat it at A level.

“The Confucius Institute works in partnership with Hubei Normal University in Huangshi City, Hubei Province, to deliver the initiative and proposals to expand it are currently under consideration.”

The Minister added: “Learning about Chinese language and culture contributes to our young people becoming global citizens with an informed and rounded worldview. The potential economic benefits and career opportunities are also manifold.

“I greatly enjoyed my meeting with the Consul General and felt it was a constructive and positive engagement. The timing was also particularly appropriate given the celebration of Chinese New Year in the past few days. I look forward to meeting Ms Wang again in the future as China, and its language, culture and economy, continues to flourish and have a positive impact on the north.”