As we have seen in most mainstream media outlets, the race for the next leader of the UK has been heating up with the candidates being whittled down to two, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.
Rishi’s recent comments on hostility to China and kicking out our 30+ Confucius Institutes is a blunt force approach to a potential risk he doesn’t understand. Partnerships, exchanges and global citizenship should be encouraged and scare mongering should be reduced.
The way to tackle a potential risk of adverse influence from a foreign power like China is to get more people, teachers, students and leadership to engage directly. For many years there has been a lot of good will in helping establish partnerships, opening dialogue and discussion from the Chinese government in their plans for levelling up.
“Kicking out our 30+ Confucius Institutes is a blunt force approach to a potential risk he doesn’t understand.”
In line with the UK’s own plans to level up we should be actively taking an educational “front foot” and learning all we can about China, how to compete, how to collaborate and most importantly, how to reduce the risk of conflict.
The UK’s policy should be to go all out for educational development and global citizenship with a heightened focus on Asia. It shouldn’t be an attempt to amputate China from the classrooms of the UK.
The Confucius Institutes and classrooms around the country are major investors in eye-opening linguistic and cultural exposure and exchange. Rishi has obviously never been involved with any of their programmes let alone spoken to any recipient of the funding they espouse.
“We set up over 200 school partnerships; not once did anyone ever attempt a ‘conversion to the dark side’.”
At the Global School Alliance, we have worked with many in student exchanges, teacher CPD trips, hosting teacher and government delegations in the UK and China.
Over five years we set up over 200 school partnerships throughout the UK and China and have moved thousands of people back and forth. Not once did anyone ever attempt a “conversion to the dark side”.
Everyone involved was so keen on personal, professional and national development. Bringing nothing but positivity and a genuine willingness to learn and make improvements, the Chinese drive for educational reform has been in action for over 50 years. Through their commitment to improving education they have lifted the most people out of poverty, more then any other country before them. Their literacy rates exploded into the high 90s in a very short space of time. As a nation, a government and a people they have a lot to offer.
“The UK’s policy shouldn’t be an attempt to amputate China from British classrooms.”
I believe that we should be focusing on collaboration and study as a way to compete and to outperform. If we wish to increase our global standings as a nation, a greater investment into our own education reform is a much better use of our time and energy then kicking out a huge investor in the UK.
The only way I was able to learn Mandarin, attend a school exchange programme, move to China, build a successful business and open that business to the over 120 countries worldwide was because my secondary school was a Confucius Classroom.
My subsidised trip to China, my extra evening classes to be the first Brit to pass Mandarin A-level came from my teacher’s commitment to my progression, not because she was a CCP spy trying to steal our IP and send it back to her Red Army handlers.
“The only way I was able to learn Mandarin and achieve what I have was because my secondary school was a Confucius Classroom.”
We should be working closer with organisations that equip the nation to compete more effectively internationally, like the Confucius network, British Council and Global School Alliance.
We would be investing our time, energy and money in delivering on Global Britain, creating global citizens in school that go out and increase our export markets that make us competitive again.
Maybe then we will stop being so scared of the USA’s decline and China’s ascension, it is an inevitable winter swell that we should paddle into and surf rather then flailing and drowning.