Chinese kids abroad need Chinese schools

Updated: 2016-03-04 07:59

By Fu Jing(China Daily Europe)

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Nation should follow example of countries which have schools in other nations for children of their nationals

A Belgian friend, who runs a medium-sized chemical company and employs four Chinese nationals, recently said a multinational is not worth its name today if it does not employ Chinese and do business with China. His business instinct also led him to open an account at the Shanghai Stock Exchange two years ago, which, however, is being managed by his 15-year-old son. By doing so, my friend says he is guiding his son to fully understand the Chinese economy because he has to rely on it to earn his living in the future.

The urge to know China and share its prosperity have been rapidly growing among Europeans, Americans, Africans and people in the rest of the world. Many of them send their children to special classes to learn Chinese, study Chinese painting or martial arts; some even send their wards to Chinese universities for higher education.

Concurrently, Chinese communities are growing in major cities across the globe such as London, New York, Paris and Brussels as more Chinese enterprises and investors seek opportunities outside China, and more diplomats and journalists are posted overseas. Amid all this, Chinese expatriates are trying to ensure their children do not lose track of the Chinese language and culture while attending schools in foreign cities.

Chinese kids abroad need Chinese schools

But this is easier said than done. I have been hunting for a secondary school in London for my son, who will finish his primary school education in Brussels in a few months, because I will soon move to the United Kingdom. But it seems my son cannot attend an English-Chinese school in London, for I couldn't find one. Instead, he can apply to about 10 bilingual schools (with either English or French as a compulsory medium), for he has mainly had French as the medium of instruction in Brussels.

The French government has been offering part financial support to schools overseas with its education authorities providing curriculum help. Besides, France has special ministerial-level organizations to take care of such schools worldwide. The French government has also sent 6,500 educators worldwide who work with 15,000 local teachers in about 500 French schools that provide education to about 330,000 students. In fact, France says no other country runs such a big education network overseas.

The United States, the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany and other major economic powers have also opened such schools abroad, which offer more options to their citizens working overseas to get their children educated in their language and culture.

Chinese kids abroad need Chinese schools

China is a latecomer in this area. Only a couple of decades ago, especially in the previous 10 years, Chinese businesses started expanding abroad and employing Chinese nationals. But since the number of Chinese enterprises and nationals abroad has increased sharply in recent times, we should study and follow the examples set by France and other countries.

Indeed, China has opened many Confucius Institutes in other countries but they mainly work in cooperation with foreign universities. Primary and secondary school education remains neglected while demand keeps rising by the day. It is thus time the Chinese government considered remodeling its overseas education network and raised it to the level befitting the world's second-largest economy. In this regard, apart from focusing on how to finance basic education for Chinese children overseas, the government should also design incentives to attract private partners to ease its financial burden.

Of course, it will not be easy to get the support of foreign countries for the move or design a tailor-made curriculum to meet demand. Perhaps China should use a mutually beneficiary way to win over the other countries' support, citing the example of Beijing and Shanghai, which already have many foreign schools. The idea should be to move gradually forward by, say, opening pilot primary and secondary schools in New York, London, Paris and Berlin.

The author is China Daily chief correspondent in Brussels. Contact the writer at