Division boosting global awareness

Chinese teacher and student exchanges are part of the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools plan to increase global awareness in its classrooms.

Notre Dame high School students Arianna Uy

Notre Dame high School students Arianna Uy

Chinese teacher and student exchanges are part of the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools plan to increase global awareness in its classrooms.

On Tuesday, the district took another step in that direction when welcoming Peng Zhang, its Chinese language teacher to the division. Zhang replaces the former Chinese teacher who finished her three-year contract last year.

The district also opened its doors to Zhang Fajun, the education consul at the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver, who toured Notre Dame High School and sat in on the International Education Division Committee meeting. As a consul, his job is to enhance educational co-operation between the western provinces and China.

“We have more and more school districts and schools coming to China to find partnerships there,” said Fajun. “Alberta has achieved a lot over the last few years. It has a very close relationship with Chongqing in the Sichuan province on education.”

Last year, Alberta renewed an agreement with China to extend the co-operative relationship between its respective ministries of education.

Fajun said he looks forward to have more practical, sustainable, co-operative programs carried out between the two countries. He said learning Mandarin, one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, provides more opportunities.

“The Chinese society and economy is developing very fast over the last 30 years,” said Fajun. “China is the second largest economy body in the world. This economy plays a very important role in making the world’s economy sustainable. There’s more opportunities for you to do business with China. If you learn the language you would have more options for your future, your career.”

The Catholic district is currently exploring ways to partner with the Banan School District, a Chinese school district in the Chongqing area, so both Canadian and Chinese teachers and students can learn from one another.

In November a group of teachers and administrators from Red Deer Catholic will visit the Banan School district.

Lynne Paradis, associate superintendent, Learning Services, said the Chinese intitiatives are part of a much larger focus on increasing global awareness. The district also has Spanish and French programs.

“China is very interested in learning more about Alberta and our education system,” said Paradis. “We too would like to learn more from them. Right now we are focused more on teacher exchanges and bringing Chinese teachers here for students who want to learn Mandarin.”

In the long term, the division looks to offer student exchanges between the two school divisions.


— copyright Red Deer Advocate