The University of Ulster is working to promote the teaching of Mandarin in Northern Ireland schools in partnership with their Chinese counterpart.
The university has signed three initiatives with academics in Eastern China after Chinese authorities decided to set up a Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster. The new institute aims to build cultural and business links between China and Northern Ireland.
Dean of the Faculty of the Arts, Professor Pol O Dochartaigh, said: “The university has signed three agreements with Hubei Normal University, based in Wuhan in eastern China, whose specialism is education.
“The first of these will see up to 40 teachers from Hubei province each year enrolling on Master’s courses in the Faculty of Arts and the Ulster Business School as part of an initiative by the Hubei provincial government to enhance the qualifications of teaching staff in that province.
“Under the second agreement, Ulster will co-operate with Hubei Normal University on a Confucius Classroom scheme for schools across Northern Ireland. Confucius classrooms operate in primary and secondary schools all around the world including Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Given China’s increasing power economically, we will benefit significantly in the future if we have a schools system which produces university graduates fluent in Mandarin.
“Hubei’s specialism is education, including the teaching of Chinese as a second language, and under this agreement the Confucius Institute at Ulster will seek expressions of interest in Chinese classroom schemes, with Hubei providing the teachers who will promote greater engagement in Northern Ireland with Chinese language and culture.”
He added: “The third agreement will enable researchers to come from Hubei to join Ulster’s new Professor of Computer Science, Hui Wang, in the development of a virtual Confucius classroom that is intended when it is fully developed to be a valuable resource for the learning of Chinese no matter where in the world you are learning.”
The Confucius Institute for Northern Ireland at the University of Ulster (CINIU) was set up in partnership with Zhejiang University.