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February 28, 2017

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Home » City specials » Hangzhou

Schools develop global vision in students

GOING international is not just a slogan for business; it’s also a credo for education systems. In Hangzhou, education authorities are encouraging schools to adopt an international outlook and curriculum.

Next month, 30 local elementary and middle schools will officially be designated as “internationalization demonstration schools.” That means they are models in international student exchanges, global relations and the employment of teachers from abroad. By the end of this year, the city hopes to have 80 schools in that designation.

“It’s to encourage schools to open up more, accelerate education reforms and complement Hangzhou as an international city,” said one education official.

Hangzhou, which hosted the G20 Summit last September, has set itself the goal of becoming an international city.

At Hangzhou Chongwen Experimental School, one of the model primary schools, Canadian Rod Ocampo teaches music along with English. He’s one of a handful of foreign teachers at the school.

“This is a good investment,” Ocampo said of internationalization. “If it continues well, the city will be bilingual in the next generation.”

A Shanghai Daily journalist visited one of his classes, where 8-year-old students were able to converse in English with their teacher. The school operates an English webpage, and school signboards and banners are bilingual.

Having children understand English is the first step. Helping them to understand China’s role in the international community is the next.

“We want to cultivate talented young people with an international vision,” said one education official.

At Hangzhou Wenlan Middle School, students last year took field trips to schools in France, Britain and the Czech Republic, and hosted students from Italy, Germany, the US and Australia back home.

“International exchanges help students broaden their vision,” said school Principal Ren Ji. “Communication among young students helps advance world peace and development.”

Since 2012, Hangzhou No. 14 Middle School has had an “international class” that provides advanced placement courses, with foreign teachers who work alongside the standard Chinese high school curriculum.

Last summer, each student in the class received an average of five offers from overseas universities, including Cornell, Carnegie Mellon University and UC Berkeley.

“We started the program because many students want to study abroad,” said school Principal Qiu Feng.

Students in the international class are also encouraged to engage in social activities and develop artistic or sports talent because that makes them the well-rounded candidates that overseas universities prefer.

There is heavy demand for pre-college training to give Chinese students the credential they will need when applying to overseas universities. As a result, specialized private schools are very popular.

Marco Polo International School, established last year in Hangzhou, is a private facility that offers high school courses based on American core curriculum. Teachers are both Chinese and foreign.

The school has a partnership with Rutgers Preparatory School, a US school in New Jersey founded in 1766. Marco Polo issues students with American high school degrees, not Chinese diplomas.

“Our goal is to send students to foreign universities,” said Principal Leo Fang.

To enroll in the Marco Polo International School, a candidate needs to pass English and mathematics tests.

Annual tuition is 128,000 yuan (US$18,646), which is steep by local standards. By contrast, Hangzhou public high schools cost around 3,000 yuan a year, while other international school usually charge between 70,000 yuan and 100,000 yuan annually.

Some schools offering pre-collect preparation specialize in certain disciplines.

Liangzhu International Arts Academy, for example, offers music courses to aspiring musicians who want to continue their studies overseas. The school helps students find appropriate music academies in the West, assists in cutting sample recordings, prepares students for interviews and aids in the visa-application process.

E-Art Campus in Hangzhou gives preparatory courses in French language and art, and helps students apply art colleges in France.

“The number of Chinese students studying art has increase dramatically in recent years, and Chinese colleges cannot accommodate all of them,” said Lan Ting, director of E-Art Campus in Hangzhou.

“Going to study in the West, where modern art originated, is a good choice.”


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