On March 26th 2010, Ireland’s first Confucius Classroom was launched by the Chinese Ambassador, Mr. Liu Biwei in Loreto Secondary School (Bray).
In her speech, Catherine Donagh, principal of Loreto Secondary School said the school set out to acquire Chinese teaching three years ago.
“We want the girls a rounded education. We like to keep a close eye on the economy and the kind of world the students will be going out into. We want them to be at the cutting edge of that world and be able to avail of the opportunities at third level.”
She said up to 40 pupils had already benefited from taking Chinese lessons and a number of girls had had travelled to Beijing last December to take part in a cultural festival that was broadcast on TV to 100 million people.
Dr Liming Wang, director of UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland said the Initiative follows from a three year pilot programme. “Discussions are currently under way with a number of other schools, with a view to taking the programme nationwide,” he said.
Dr Hugh Brady said recent studies undertaken by the college show a compelling need for Chinese language learning – both from an educational and business perspective.
“The lack of language ability and lack of understanding of Chinese culture form major barriers to doing business in China. Among Irish companies, over 78 percent of those questioned, have a demand for university graduates who combine business with Chinese studies.
“Our students also found that 70 percent of schools believe that Chinese will affect further job opportunities. Yet there is currently no guiding policy on the development of language education,” he added.
The speeches were followed by the girls’ performance on Chinese poems and songs. Seven major Irish and Chinese media reported the event and feedback from Irish secondary schools was overwhelmingly positive. Following the event UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland has received more requests from Irish second schools to establish Confucius Classroom within their schools.