12th Confucius Institute Conference Concludes Successfully

[Source]    Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) [Time]    2017-12-18 12:55:31 

On December 13th, the 12th Confucius Institute Conference lasting for two days concluded successfully at Qujiang International Conference and Exhibition Center in Xi’an. The theme of the conference was “Deepen Cooperation, Developing through Innovation, Working Together to Build a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind”. Centering on “The Development of Confucius Institute and the Establishment of a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind”, a conference forum was set up for the first time, and a total of 15 forums were carried out among university presidents and Confucius Institute directors at home and abroad. In addition, various exhibitions were held on the sidelines of the conference, including the Confucius Institute Chinese Language Teaching Resource Exhibition, the Chinese Teaching Materials Exhibition, the Theme Exhibition on Chinese Food Culture, the Brief Introduction to Higher Education in Shaanxi—“Five Years of Sheer Endeavour”, and the Calligraphy Creative Product Exhibition of Chinese Calligraphy Institute. Nearly 2,500 guests, including university presidents and representatives of the Confucius Institutes from over 140 countries and regions, attended the conference.

The closing ceremony of the 12th Confucius Institute Conference

Tian Xuejun, Vice Minister of Education and Executive Council Member of Confucius Institute Headquarters, P.R.China., attended the closing ceremony and delivered a special report. He briefed the attendees on the basic situation and policy tendency of China’s education in the new era, especially the major reform and innovation measures regarding opening up and international exchanges and cooperation.

Tian Xuejun, Vice Minister of Education and Executive Council Member of Confucius Institute Headquarters, P.R.China., delivering a report

Tian Xuejun said that China’s education has been elevated to a new level with all-round changes, and there are systematic improvement and historical achievements in the past five years. With accelerated modernization in education and greatly improved education popularization, our people have gained continuous and increased sense of gain and China’s education plays a more and more important role in the international community. At the meantime, China is still the largest developing country in the world and its development level, conditions and environment are all closely related to the country’s education. There are still some issues remained to be solved. The goal of China’s education in the new era is to make every effort to solve the problem of insufficient and imbalance development in education and better meet the citizens’ needs for a high quality and fair education system.

Tian Xuejun emphasized that it is in this new era that China is gradually approaching the center of the world stage and making greater contributions to the human community. The Chinese government will continue its efforts in promoting the internationalization of education, improve the level of opening up in education, and contribute to the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to create channels for people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries and provide high-quality services to overseas students. The Confucius Institutes is an important carrier for Chinese education’s going global and a successful model for education exchanges and cooperation between China and the rest of the world. He hoped that teachers and students of the Confucius Institutes keep their original aspirations firmly in mind, seek a common ground to the largest extent, establish a long-term plan, improve the system and mechanism, enhance the strength construction, improve quality and level, promote innovation and development, and realize transformation and upgrade.

Ma Jianfei, Deputy Chief Executive of the Confucius Institute Headquarters and Deputy Director-General of Hanban, chaired the closing ceremony. Jaime Vatter, Rector of University of Saint Thomas, Chile, Hu Zhengrong, President of Communication University of China, Xiu Huajing, Director of the Confucius Institute at University of Kentucky of the US, Katharine Carruthers, Director of the Confucius Institute at Institute of Education at University College London, addressed the closing ceremony on behalf of the various forums. The conference concluded with the warm applause of both domestic and foreign guests.

So far, altogether 525 Confucius Institutes and 1,113 Confucius Classrooms have been established in 146 countries (regions) across the globe. In 2017, a total of 2.32 million students studied at Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms with 12.72 million people benefiting from various related cultural events.

The following is the full text of Concluding Remarks at the Closing Ceremony of the 12th Confucius Institute Conference:

Concluding Remarks at the Closing Ceremony of
the 12th Confucius Institute Conference

TIAN Xuejun
Vice Minister of Education, P. R. China
Executive Member, Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters

13 December, 2017

Distinguished Guests, Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

Good afternoon! The 12th Confucius Institute Conference, which has witnessed our joint efforts in the last two days, is now drawing near to a close. Entrusted by Madame LIU Yandong, Vice Premier of China and Chair of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, I would like to deliver a concluding report.

This conference was attended by over 2000 delegates from 146 countries and regions around the world, including more than 500 presidents of CI host universities and Chinese partner universities. Being an event of the largest scale in the CI history, this conference lives up to its nickname as the “World Education Davos”. Our gathering here and those heated discussions not only brought to Xi’an the vigor of spring against winter bleakness but also manifested the solidarity and cohesion of the CI family.

This conference encompassed the Council Meeting of the Confucius Institute Headquarters chaired by Madame LIU Yandong, who together with all council members listened to the CI work report of 2017 and commented on the 2018 work plan. Madame LIU presented at the Opening Ceremony of this Conference and delivered a keynote speech entitled Deepening Reform, Developing Through Innovation, Working Together to Build a Community of Shared Future for Mankind, which set the overall tone for the future development of global CIs.

This conference was widely contributed to by delegates sharing their insights and experiences at the 7 Presidents’ Forums under such topics as Participating in the “Belt and Road” Initiative, Strengthening People-to-People Bonds, 8 Directors’ Forums under such topics as Capacity Building of Teaching Staff, Innovation of Teaching and Resources, as well as the newly-initiated Conference Forum under the topic of Development of Confucius Institutes and Building of a Community of Shared Future for Mankind, to reach a wide spectrum of common understandings.

This conference was widely considered to be fruitful and impressive with various activities and programs, presenting excellence awards; holding exhibitions of CI achievements, teaching resources, Chinese calligraphy, and Chinese food culture; arranging an art performance to showcase the unique glamour of the historical and cultural heritage of Xi’an city and Shaanxi Province.

In the last two days, all delegates have been busy meeting old friends and making new acquaintances, opening up friendships and discussing matters of crucial importance, thus bringing the Conference to a full success. Hereby, on behalf of the Ministry of Education of China as well as the Confucius Institute Headquarters, I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to you!

During the Conference, following through well-articulated presentations and heated discussions at the Conference Forum, Presidents’ Forums and Directors’ Forums, we at the Headquarters are greatly inspired and motivated. As is known, the recently successfully convened 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China(CPC) proclaimed the entry of Socialism with Chinese characteristics into a new era; set down the road map and timetable for developing China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the mid-21st century; and proposed the grand vision of building a community of shared future for mankind and working together to create a bright tomorrow for all; which received great attention from the international community. During this conference, many delegates raised to me their wishes to learn more about the latest developments and policy trends of education in China in the new era, with particular regard to important reform and innovation measures in the field of opening up and international exchange and cooperation, so as to better push forward the development of CIs. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some information which might be helpful to you.

Education in China in the new era is based upon the solid foundation of past achievements. The last five years since the 18th National Congress of CPC witnessed great strides made in China’s education sector, as are reflected by multi-dimensional changes, systematic upgrading and historical achievements:

1. Sped-up advancement towards education modernization. During the past five years, the annual state budgetary expenditure on education has been increasing from RMB 2 trillion to over 3 trillion yuan, accounting for more than 4% of the GDP for five consecutive years. Nationwide primary and secondary school internet access rate increased from 25% five years ago to 94% at present. In addition to a cumulative out-turn of 80 million graduates from universities, colleges and technical secondary schools, higher education institutions maintained a National Natural Science Award, National Technical Invention Award and National Scientific and Technological Progress Award recipient rate of 2/3, rendering full support to the implementation of the national innovation-driven development strategy.

2. Significant rise in China’s education popularization rate. 2016 registered a gross enrollment rate of 77.4%, 99.9% and 104% for 3-year preschool, primary and secondary education respectively and a retention ratio of 93.4% for the 9-year compulsory education, all being higher than the average of upper-income countries; 87.5% for senior secondary education; and 42.7% for higher education, higher than the average of upper-middle-income countries. Third-party assessment indicates that overall quality of education in China takes an upper-middle rank in the world.

3. Stronger sense of fulfillment. In accordance with the principle of “not one left behind”, poor rural areas and ethnic group regions were given extra education inputs while an education financial aid system was built upon covering preschool through higher education. The compulsory education attendance rate of handicapped and disabled children reached 90% and above, while special test papers were developed for students with vision disability in national college entrance examination. Governments, schools and related stakeholders worked together to promote education equality and enhance education quality to meet people’s increasing demand for education.

4. Increased international influence. China outperformed most OECD countries in PISA. Higher education institutions moved upward on many world rankings of universities, with some on a par with or close to world-class standards. China has signed agreements on mutual recognition of academic credentials with 47 countries and regions and established education cooperation and exchange relationship with over 180 countries and regions; held over 2500 Chinese-Foreign cooperation school-running institutions or programs and hosted more than 100 bachelor and above degree schools or programs overseas; attracted international students from over 200 countries and regions to become the largest international student destination in Asia and the third largest in the world.

These historic achievements for education in China in the last five years were built upon the past and will carry on, from which we derive greater confidence for the future. Meanwhile, China remains the largest developing country in the world and there are still some problems waiting to be solved in education due to the constraints of development stage and conditions. The principal contradiction facing Chinese society in the new era is between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life. In the context of education, people's ever-growing needs for a better life is manifested in the transition to a quality-oriented education, that is, needs for more diversified forms of education, more resilient and individualized education deliverables, fairer education supply; the unbalanced and inadequate development is manifested in the regional, urban-rural, interschool, and intergroup education gaps as well as weak links in various types and levels of education.

Education in China in the new era is striving to solve the problem of unbalanced and inadequate development so as to meet the people's ever-growing needs for fairer education of better quality. Under the guidance of the spirit of the 19th National Congress of CPC, we will give top priority to education, take the strengthening of education as fundamental to our pursuit of national rejuvenation, speed up education modernization, and develop education that people are satisfied with; we will foster virtue through education, enhance our students' well-rounded development, promote education equity, and nurture a new generation of capable young people who have a good and all-round moral, intellectual, physical, and aesthetical grounding and are well-prepared to join the socialist cause. To be more specific, we will accomplish eight major tasks: First, we will offer students better guidance, expose them to practice, provide institutional guarantees, imbue the entire national education process with the core socialist values, and help students to firmly establish the sense of social responsibility, awareness of rules, and sense of dedication. Second, we will promote the coordinated development of compulsory education in urban and rural areas, while giving particular attention to rural areas; improve preschool education, special needs education, and online education; and make senior secondary education universally available. Third, we will improve the system of vocational education and training, and promote interaction between industry and education as well as cooperation between enterprises and colleges. Fourth, we will move faster to build Chinese universities into world-class universities and develop world-class disciplines as we work to bring out the full potential of higher education. Fifth, we will improve the system of financial aid to students, and work to see that the vast majority of the new members of the urban and rural labor force have received senior secondary education, and that more and more of them receive higher education. Sixth, we will support and regulate the development of private schools. Seventh, we will strengthen the professional ethics and competence of teachers, and encourage public respect for educators. Eighth, we will improve continuing education, step up efforts to build a learning society, and promote the well-rounded development of all our people. To the same end, we will comprehensively deepen education reform, reinforce education-related rule of law and promote IT application in education so as to provide institutional support and condition guarantee for developing state-of-art modern education with Chinese characteristics.

The new era is one in which China constantly make greater contributions for human beings. China will continue its efforts to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and uphold international order. China will not close its door to the world; we will only become more and more open. Looking forward to the future, education in China will further enlarge the opening-up scope and constantly raise quality and standards of international education exchange and cooperation. Recently, the Chinese government formulated a number of important documents including the 13th Five-Year Plan for the National Education Development and Action Plan for Education under the Belt and Road Initiative, covering rich contents relating to the education opening-up schemes, layouts and measures as well as global education governance. For restriction of time, now I’d like to move on to several important measures taken by the education sector in China for opening-up and international exchange and cooperation:

1. Efforts to open up education at a higher level and on a higher plane: including efforts to build Chinese universities into world-class universities and develop world-class disciplines; to support research-oriented universities in talent cultivation and scientific breakthroughs in collaboration with world top universities; to support vocational schools bring in high-level foreign experts and quality course resources and encourage interschool teacher and student exchanges; to encourage eligible primary and secondary schools to form sister schools with foreign counterparts for multi-channel educational exchange; to revise and upgrade regulations on Chinese-Foreign cooperation in school running with the aim of brining in quality education resources; to facilitate Chinese higher education institutions to run schools overseas; and to follow closely changes in education content, mode and concepts incurred by new technology revolutions with focused attention on studies and experiments on educational international cooperation in the artificial intelligence era.

2. Efforts to make contributions to pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative. The Belt and Road Initiative put forward by President XI Jinping in 2013 has gotten high attention and warm response among the international community. In the last 4 years, over 100 countries and international organizations have taken active part in pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, which not only brought substantial benefits to countries and peoples along the route but also offered historical opportunities for pushing forward the opening up, exchanges and integration of regional education. To this end, Ministry of Education of China formulated in 2016 the Action Plan for Education under the Belt and Road Initiative to make clear the mission, principles and priorities of education cooperation in the region. It is believed that under joint efforts, cooperation will be more pragmatic and efficient in the fields of educational interconnection, talent cultivation, mutual recognition of academic credentials, teacher and student exchanges, and joint school running between countries along the “Belt and Road”. We also hope that more countries, areas and organizations will become part of education actions in the Belt and Road Initiative.

3. Efforts to open up new channels for people-to-people exchange between China and other countries.“Friendship, which derives from close contact between the people, holds the key to sound state-to-state relations.” Education, as a great cause of imparting knowledge, spreading culture and shaping the mind, is an important component of the people-to-people exchange as well as heart-to-heart communication. Higher education, in particular, where high-level talents and the most dynamic younger generation assemble, is the highland for the people-to-people exchange between China and other countries. To coordinate and advance the people-to-people exchange, the Chinese government has established high-level exchange mechanism with 8 countries and international organizations. For the next step, we will take on an even more active and open posture in building the intergovernmental education consultation, pragmatic expert and scholar cooperation and teacher-student friendly exchange platforms to attract and involve more social groups in forging brand projects and boost the mutual learning and exchanges between different civilizations characterized by harmony within diversity, inclusiveness, and mutual learning.

4. Efforts to offer international students quality services. China will make efforts to attract more international students to study in China. Far back in 2010, the Ministry of Education of China enacted the Study in China Project which set the goal of attracting 500,000 international students to primary, secondary and tertiary schools in China by 2020. In 2016, there were 545,000 Chinese students studying abroad and 443,000 overseas students studying in China, both of which would see further expansion in future. To offer better services to international students, the Ministry of Education promulgated in March 2017 the Administrative Measures for the Enrollment and Cultivation of International Students by Schools. We will work further to improve the study abroad service and management system.

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The Confucius Institute is an important manifestation of China’s education going global and a glorifying example of education exchange and cooperation between China and other countries. As China develops rapidly, there is an increasing demand of people in other countries for learning Chinese and knowing about China, as is reflected by the “China fervor” and “Chinese-learning fervor” around the world that poses rare historical opportunities for the development of CIs. During this conference, delegates offered many constructive comments and suggestions. The 4 speakers before me provided us with relevant information and very good summaries. All these valuable inputs will be carefully sorted out and well reflected into the future work of the Headquarters. I would like now to draw on the deliberations and decisions on the 2018 work plan at the Council meeting yesterday morning and your feedbacks to make several more proposals regarding the development of CIs for your reference:

1. Remain true to our original aspirations and build up the greatest consensus. When the great way prevails, the world is equally shared by all. In recent years, President XI Jinping reiterated the concept of building a community of shared future for human beings on more than 100 important occasions both at home and internationally, calling on the people of all countries to work together to build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity. This demonstrates the global vision and responsibility of China to synergize its own development with the common development of the world. At present, the important thought of a community of shared future for human beings has been written into documents of the United Nations Security Council, Commission for Social Development and Human Rights Council. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out clearly that the purpose of multilateralism is to establish a community of shared future for all humankind. All these are signs that the concept of building a community of shared future for human beings has gradually won the recognition of the international community. In building a community of shared future for human beings, common destiny should be taken as the core, common interest as the basis, common responsibility as crucial, and the notion of civilizations being colorful, equal and inclusive as the premise for replacing estrangement with exchange, clashes with mutual learning, and superiority with coexistence so as to facilitate the heart-to-heart communications and enhance the friendship between nations. The purpose of the CI is to teach Chinese language, and its mission is to promote people-to-people exchange and mutual learning between civilizations, which is highly consistent with the concept of a community of shared future for mankind. Madame LIU Yandong pointed out in her keynote speech at the Opening Ceremony that CIs need to contribute to the building of a community of shared future for mankind, which was thought highly and accepted readily by Chinese and international delegates alike, meaning that we reached the widest consensus regarding the CI mission and ambition. Looking to the future, I hope CIs and CI faculties all over the world will remain true to our original aspirations, bear in mind our missions, work together closely and fight against all kinds of difficulties to build the CI into a world-renowned education and culture community to play a unique role and make significant contributions to the building of a community of shared future for human beings.

2. Set down long-term plans and upgrade relevant institutions and mechanisms. In today’s world, exchange and mutual learning between civilizations have become the trend of the times. There is an increasingly urgent demand among world peoples for learning each other’s language and knowing about each other’s culture. This new situation gave us strong confidence while initiating a strong sense of crisis at the Headquarters as well as CIs worldwide. Many delegates showed their concerns over the strategic considerations and visions for the future development of CIs and looked to the Headquarters for a long-term strategic plan. At the Conference last year, the Headquarters solicited delegates’ feedbacks on the draft Action Plan for Confucius Institute Development, which has been under revisions and improvements this year on the basis of in-depth investigations and researches in over 130 countries. In accordance with the schedule laid down by the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters, the Action Plan for Confucius Institute Development will be released officially next year. Meanwhile, the Headquarters will make further studies to revise in due course of time the Constitution and By-Laws of the Confucius Institutes with reference to practical experiences and innovative cases from both sides. These actions are intended of CIs for further optimized global layout, steadily expanded numbers of teachers and students, enhanced education quality, actively serve the Belt and Road Initiative and overall friendly cooperation between China and other countries; and to put in place a well-fledged new management and service system where the Headquarters is shaped as coordinator, partner universities as mainstay, regional (country-specific) centers as service frontline, and CIs as providers of featured services. It is our sincere hope that global CIs will develop or update your constitutions and plans in consideration of local conditions and in accordance with the Action Plan and Constitutions of the Headquarters so that together we may bring the development of CIs to a higher plane.

3. Strengthen capacity building and improve quality standards. With a wide geographical coverage and strong inclusiveness, CIs transcend national and ethnic boundaries to take root in different conditions and cultures. The difficulties and challenges they face are varied, and so they need to constantly strengthen capacity building and enhance educational quality to get adapted. I think, to this end, we need to push hard for the building of a team of professional teachers and directors. We will further expand the reserve of Chinese full-time teachers and directors, recruit more local head teachers and establish teacher training bases so as to put in place a team structure based on the backbone of Chinese full-time teachers and a combination of Chinese and local as well as part- and full-time teachers. In 2018, the Headquarters will draw up specific team building plans on the basis of in-depth investigations and researches to render responsive support and service in this dimension. We need to give more attention to textbook standards. We will build upon the teacher, textbook, pedagogical skills and examination standards. With our International Chinese Textbook Initiative, we intend to develop with focused efforts three sets of quality backbone textbooks, on the Chinese language, culture and contemporary China respectively, which encourage CIs to use on voluntary basis. Meanwhile, we will continue our support to the development of local textbooks and the offering of various languages other than English and culture courses by individual CIs. We need to vigorously advance IT application in teaching practices. With our On-line Teaching Initiative, we intend to encourage wider application of internet, big data and modern technology; provision of MOOC, resource sharing, teacher training and cultural exchange platforms; so that an integrated new-generation Chinese teaching system could come into being. At present, Confucius Institute Online has officially launched its MOOC platform and all CIs are warmly welcome to upload your quality lectures. We encourage the better localization of CIs. Local conditions and cultural differences in the host countries must be fully respected. CIs need to adapt themselves more readily to diversified local needs by developing local teachers, textbooks and lectures so that they can build a strength for themselves and better fit in as an indispensable component of local education and culture.

4. Enable development through innovation and upgrading through transformation. Facing new wishes and new demands coming up from the local community, CIs need to leverage on their past successful experiences, keep up an enterprising spirit, reinforce their reform and innovation capacities, and upgrade themselves through a transformation into the “CI Version 2.0”. More explorations are needed into resilient and diversified teaching forms. CIs are encouraged to base themselves on local conditions and orient toward featured development in such directions as language teaching, cultural exchange and vocational training. Local governments, enterprises and social groups in the host countries are encouraged to get involved or cooperate with Chinese and international partner universities in establishing CIs. Also encouraged is the collaborative establishment of various centers on Chinese language teaching, China studies and cultural exchanges by partner universities. More explorations are needed into better management of teaching outlets. Currently, all CIs and CCs, the 48 Model CIs in particular, are playing a big role in reaching-out in terms of Chinese language teaching. They now have a total of over 5000 extended teaching outlets and the number of students enrolled in their face-to-face programs is equivalent to half of the global total. Next, it might be viable to put them under our auspices via accreditation coupled with greater teaching staff, curriculum, textbook and examination supports, for a multi-tier (Headquarters-CI-CC-teaching outlets) service operation system to be put in place. More explorations are needed into building up CIs as colleges of universities. We may select a number of Chinese and international partner universities to build trainer training academies on existing CIs to reinforce the pre-service, in-service and special-purpose trainings for global Chinese language teachers. We encourage eligible Chinese and host universities to collaboratively upgrade their CI into an overseas department on voluntary basis so that the two sides are bounded more deeply in discipline building and academic exchanges, which marks at the same time a breakthrough in the education mode of CIs.

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Hard to part with a visit short, back to Chang’an in dreams sought”. The 2-day conference is coming soon to a close. Our meeting is but too short; our friendship will last long. We look forward to meeting you again next year at the Conference to write an even brighter future for CIs. So, let us stand hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder in close cooperation to open up new journeys and write new chapters for the development of CIs and make greater contributions to education going global, to people-to-people exchange between China and other countries, and to building a community of shared future for mankind!

Finally, I propose we give a big applause of sincere gratitude to CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee and Shaanxi Provincial People’s Government, to CPC Xi’an Municipal Committee and Municipal People’s Government, to related universities and colleges in Shaanxi and to our volunteers, who have made painstaking efforts to make this Conference a full success!

The New Year of 2018 is less than 20 days away; please accept my early wishes to all of you for a happy new year, good health, family happiness, and good luck in everything!

I will now proclaim the conclusion of the 12th Confucius Institute Conference. Thank you!