As more and more Chinese people – many of whom are involved with the Belt and Road Initiative – head abroad for work, demand is increasing for schools with Chinese as the medium of instruction that follow the domestic curriculum.
The government is also hoping that the schools will appeal to overseas Chinese and those of Chinese descent.
According to the country’s MoE, there are currently around 20,000 schools abroad offering some form of Chinese education and 60 million Chinese stationed and living around the world.
“Our… expansion is in line with the fast-growing demand for quality Chinese education overseas”
Many of these schools work closely with the MoE and local Chinese embassies for support in delivering their curriculums and supplying resources.
The ministry has said it will increase financial support for such institutions. Ideas around equipping some already existing training centres and Confucius Institutes with facilities for teaching Overseas Chinese have also been mooted.
Zhuge Academy, part of Beijing-based Lanxum Inc, currently has two international schools – one in the US and one in Canada. Its head of international business, Shang Mei, told China Daily that the company has plans for greater expansion, particularly in Asia and the Middle East.
“Our quick overseas expansion is in line with the fast-growing demand for quality Chinese education overseas,” said Shang.
“Some Chinese have strong cultural anxiety since they moved abroad. They don’t have an environment to learn Chinese history and culture. Some are afraid that their children will abandon the culture.”
Several countries also have bilingual or Chinese-medium schools unaffiliated with the Chinese government.
Malaysia, whose population is just under a quarter ethnically Chinese, has a number of Chinese-medium schools, although schools geared towards specific ethnic groups in the multicultural country do attract criticism.
The UK’s first bilingual prep school teaching in both English and Mandarin, Kensington Wade, opened in 2017, charging a hefty £17,925 a year.
“An increasing number of English schools are starting to offer a modest amount of Chinese language teaching,” wrote headmistress Jo Wallace on the school’s website.
“But given the nature of the Chinese language and the demands of the existing curriculum, the time and energy devoted to learning Chinese is insufficient to learn both the language and the culture properly.”