Five Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive, including the First Minister Peter Robinson, have joined forces to show their support for the University of Ulster’s Confucius Classroom Hubs project.
The First Minister was joined by ministerial colleagues Stephen Farry (DELNI), John O’Dowd (Education), Jonathan Bell (OFMDFM) and Jennifer McCann (OFMDFM) at a launch event in Stormont’s Long Gallery to mark a new milestone in links between Northern Ireland and China.
They were welcoming a high-level Chinese delegation of academics, educationalists and diplomats to a event celebrating the launch of Confucius Institute Classroom Hubs in eight Northern Ireland schools, including Millburn Primary School, Coleraine.
The First Minister, Peter Robinson MLA, said: ““I welcome the establishment of the First Confucius Classroom Hubs in Northern Ireland and I commend the University of Ulster and the school hubs for the tremendous work they have undertaken to make this possible.
“These new classroom hubs are a fantastic way to ensure that from the youngest age and at every level of education, young people will be introduced to Chinese language and culture. I am determined to continue to grow our educational links with China and wish each of the eight Northern Ireland Confucius Institute Hub Schools every success.”
Education Minister John O’Dowd MLA, who also represented the deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness MLA, said: ““This project has grasped the imagination of our educators and of our schools. My department stand ready to be of any assistance it can be to ensure that this programme continues to build.
“I want to thank everyone involved in the Confucius Institute.
“I want to thank them for their dedication, for their innovation, and for ensuring that our young people and our societies have an opportunity to learn from each other.”
Attending the launch event was Deputy Chinese Consul-General for Scotland and Northern Ireland Mr Zhang Huazhong, who told the VIP audience: ““It’s a great pleasure for me to witness the official launch of the Confucius Classroom Hubs in Northern Ireland.
This is another significant step in the development of educational and cultural links between China and Northern Ireland.”
Hubei Normal University is a key partner in the delivery of the Confucius Classroom project in Northern Ireland.
“Its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Xianzhi Xiang, who was making his third visit to Northern Ireland, said:“I am very proud to represent Hubei Normal University at this launch.
““Teachers from Hubei University will be arriving in Northern Ireland at the end of this year to begin work in the Confucius Classrooms, and I hope that through these Confucius Classrooms the seeds of friendship will be sown between our young people.”