Grenada is the first country in the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to establish a classroom to teach the Chinese language and culture to students.
The Confucius classroom named after a famous Chinese philosopher and scholar was officially opened last week Friday at the T.A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) at Tanteen, St. George’s.
The move, which has the full backing and financial support of the Chinese government in Beijing, is aimed at promoting the Chinese language and culture in foreign territories.
Four hundred and sixty five Confucius institutions and seven hundred and thirteen Confucius classrooms already exist in one hundred and twenty three countries across the world where China has diplomatic relations
At the opening ceremony, acting Principal of TAMCC, David Flemming said the Confucius classroom concept not only symbolises the distinctive Chinese culture but will serve to enhance cultural exchanges and to improve the people to people relationship.
“It will not only play an important role in promoting the Chinese language and culture but also will serve as a window to introduce the Grenadian culture and civilisation to the people of China and at the same time it will deepen the mutual understanding and friendship between the two nations,” he said.
Flemming stated that the island’s leading tertiary institution strives progressively to transform itself into a dynamic intellectual organisation and the launch of the Confucius classroom is a deliberate effort to further achieve that goal.
“Our hope is that this dynamism will propel the growth of moving from a Confucius classroom to a Confucius institute, one that would go beyond language, culture and martial arts but also will promote the exchange and cooperation in areas such as science, technology applied arts, Chinese cuisine business and finance,” he said.
Resident Chinese Ambassador, Ou Boqian said that with the establishment of the Confucius classroom and the continuous learning of the language in Grenada it can eventually lead to a Chinese language proficiency contest.
The whole idea, according to Ambassador Ou is to encourage the students who are learning the language and also those who have already spend some time in China to have a better grasp of the Chinese language.
“I know there are students who receive scholarships from China and spend five years learning the language – I feel (a) burning in my heart when I realise when they return to Grenada they almost forget the language and hopefully in the future we could provide some platforms for the students to get involved in the proficiency language in the future,” she remarked.
Also addressing the function was Minister of Education, Anthony Boatswain who endorsed the Chinese classroom on the island and supported all the benefits that it can bring to the island.
“I see this event as yet another manifestation of the growing friendship and cooperation between our two countries. This classroom in my opinion can be regarded as a new window through which we can gain further knowledge and understanding of the culture and language of the Chinese people…”, he said.
“…Also it can be considered as the window of opportunity to those of us who may be desirous of making Chinese language a second or even third official language but we must not see this as a one way street. That institute in my opinion can also serve our visiting friends from China who may wish to gain further insight into our language and culture,” he added.
Minister Boatswain suggested that Grenada could establish a similar institute in China to offer the English Language and it can be called the TA. Marryshow classroom.
Grenada and China have just ended a series of activities to mark the 10th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries following a decision by the 2005 New National Party (NNP) government of Dr. Keith Mitchell to break ties with the so-called renegade province, Taiwan.