Hao Ping Delivers the Concluding Speech at the Closing Ceremony of the 7th Confucius Institute Conference

[Source]    Hanban [Time]    2012-12-18 20:18:28 

Hao Ping, Vice Minister of Education of the People’s Republic of China and Executive Member of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, delivering the concluding speech at the closing ceremony of the 7th Confucius Institute Conference

Editor’s Note:

At the closing ceremony of the 7th Confucius Institute Conference on December 18, 2012, Hao Ping, Vice Minister of Education of the People’s Republic of China and Executive Member of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, delivered the concluding speech.

The following is the full text of the speech:

Distinguished guests, chief executive Madam Xu Lin, dear delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

Just now, Mr. Li Ruogu, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of China, made a wonderful report. From the perspective of Chinese philosophy, he analyzed the status quo and the trend of China’s economic development and the trade between China and other countries. Thank Mr. Li for his wonderful speech, offering us lots of insights.

Up to this moment, all agenda items of the 7th Confucius Institute have been concluded and the conference is coming to a close. Now, I would like to make a concluding speech, as commissioned by the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters.

Attending this conference are more than 2100 delegates from over 400 Confucius Institutes (Classrooms) in 108 countries, more than 50 foreign embassies or consulates, the provincial education authorities, universities and secondary and primary schools in China. The Chinese government attaches great importance to this conference. Madam Liu Yandong, State Councilor of the P. R. China and Chair of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, attended the opening ceremony and delivered a speech. She also presented awards to 70 outstanding Confucius Institutes (Classrooms), individuals and Chinese partners.

This Conference is themed on “Facilitate the Integration of Confucius Institutes into Host Universities and Local Communities.” In two and half days, we held eight panel discussions and four presidents’ forums. Different from past conferences, there were no designated speakers for the forums of this year. Instead, the forum topics were decided based on the interests and suggestions of the delegates. All delegates from each Confucius Institute had the chance to speak. So at this conference we had more diversified ideas and more in-depth and heated discussions, thus yielding more fruitful and practical results.

The Organizing Committee has collected and sorted out the speeches made by each delegate. I have been inspired a lot after viewing all the suggestions carefully. The key points are summarized as follows:

First, the nurturing and training of local teachers remains the first priority. Regarding this, many good suggestions have been raised. For example, the University of Wisconsin at Platteville in USA believes that setting core faculty positions is an important measure for the sustainable development of Confucius Institutes. The teachers selected for these core positions shall meet strict criteria. The successful candidates shall be familiar with the academic and administrative system of the host universities, proficient in Chinese and local languages and skillful in cross-cultural communications, as well as capable of providing professional guidance for Confucius Institute teachers and volunteers. The Sapporo University of Japan suggests that the remuneration of core teachers could be shared by Chinese and foreign counterparts so that the core teachers enjoys the same level of benefit and treatment as the teaching chairs of the same kind in the local country. Hanban is responsible for formulating the consistent criteria, making the appointment and assessing the performance. Meanwhile, many universities are proactive in establishing the undergraduate or graduate programs for Chinese teaching and setting up teacher training bases. The Bishkek Humanities University, Kyrgyzstan states that the establishment of Chinese teaching major and training bases shall consider different characteristics of local regions and focus on the practical teaching skills, rather than simply copying the traditional model of teaching Chinese as a foreign language. The headquarters will carefully listen to all the opinions made by delegates and hereby revise the Implementation Plan for the Core Teacher Position in Confucius Institutes.

Second, we will continuously support the local teaching material publication. In the past few years, Confucius Institutes in various countries have made huge progress in developing local Chinese language teaching materials. For example, the Institute of Education of the University of London, UK, the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, the University of Kansas, USA, the University of Los Andes, Columbia have compiled and revised Chinese language teaching materials in line with local needs. These teaching materials have also been successfully promoted in the market. These universities provide us valuable experience. It has proved that we are capable to develop excellent teaching materials as long as we are innovative, free-minded and adjustable to the local needs. In my opinion, we should encourage the flexible development of local teaching materials at a wider scope and higher level. We need to develop not only Chinese language teaching materials, but also the cultural reading materials, serving universities, secondary and primary schools, as well as industries like trade and tourism. China 101 developed by the University of Auckland, New Zealand is a good example. To sum up, as long as the teaching material ignites students’ interests, increases bilateral educational and cultural exchanges and facilitates the understanding among the people of different countries, it will be deemed as a good one and the Headquarters will offer full support for developing such materials. In addition, it’s an urgent task to develop multimedia and online teaching materials and reading materials. Confucius Institutes shall pay attention to this and make new breakthroughs. Before attending this afternoon session, I visited the teaching material exhibition area and I felt that the online multimedia teaching materials have been much better than before. Besides, we should also give special support to the development and application of Chinese teaching materials in languages other than English. Currently, the Headquarters is selecting “2012 Excellent Cultural Reading Materials” and will announce the result soon, through which we hope to call your attention to cultural reading materials.

Third, the Confucius Institutes shall focus on improving quality and fully play the role of being a platform for comprehensive cultural exchanges. During the conference, nearly all the delegates believe that only through improving quality can a Confucius Institute exert its influence. Not only should we improve Chinese language teaching, but also hold all kinds of cultural exchange activities. The practices over last eight years show that the sound development of Confucius Institutes is impossible without catering to the local university and community needs and serving as a comprehensive cultural exchange platform. Each country pays close attention to the integration of Confucius Institutes into the local communities and universities. For instance, George Mason University in USA diversifies the humanity and social science schools by launching the program “Integration of Chinese Elements into University Curriculum” and introducing Chinese cultures to related courses across the University. Currently, more than two thirds of Chinese language courses provided by Confucius Institutes have been included into university credit system. All delegates agree that the Confucius Institutes can not only serve as a center for Chinese language teaching, local Chinese language teacher training and HSK tests, but also carry out contemporary China studies and Chinese history research, providing more academic results and information for local people. Meanwhile, the Confucius Institutes can offer featured courses in business, traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese literature, martial arts, Chinese cuisine and tourism, combining language teaching and cultural exchanges. As such, students can command one or more professional skills while learning Chinese.

This year, the Headquarters sent expert panels from China and the rest of the world to visit and evaluate over 80 Confucius Institutes which have been in operation for five years or more, aiming at improving the quality and promoting mutual cooperation. It is found that regular on-site evaluation is totally constructive and necessary. Next year, we will continue this job.

To sustain quality improvement and serving comprehensive cultural exchange functions, it’s also important to formulate a good development plan. Currently, more than 320 Confucius Institutes have formulated the development plan. At this conference, 40 Confucius Institutes introduced their plans, which were warmly welcomed. Some universities make good plans such as the University of Michigan, USA, University of Leipzig, Germany, Waseda University, Japan, University of Zimbabwe and Sao Paulo State University in Brazil. I hope the universities and schools yet to accomplish the 2015 Development Plan follow their lead.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, the Confucius Institutes gather together each year like a family to strengthen our bonds, communicate ideas and seek progress together. Here, I would like to express my appreciation for your participation in such a cold weather. The Confucius Institute belongs not only to China, but also to the whole world. I believe that the Confucius Institutes will enjoy strong and sound growth with the care and attention of the people around the world and Confucius Institutes are bound to make more contribution to world peace and cultural diversification, as well as deeper friendship between China and the rest of the world.

Finally, I wish all of you a prosperous new year, good health and a happy life!

Thank you!