A HUB providing access to the teaching of Chinese language and culture for pupils throughout Shetland was officially launched in Sandwick on Tuesday.
The event was attended by representatives of the Confucious Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS), along with councillors, staff and pupils from ten schools throughout the islands.
There were also short performances by the Chongqing Sichuan Opera House – which also gave a free show at Mareel on Monday night – and young fiddle and accordion players from the South Mainland.
The creation of a Confucius hub in Shetland, one of 16 across Scotland and funding by the Scottish and Chinese governments, will provide resources and support to allow young people the opportunity to learn more about Chinese language and culture.
Since October, Ying Zhang has been teaching Mandarin Chinese to pupils at Sandwick and other primary and secondary schools in Shetland. Lessons include language skills as well as broader aspects of Chinese culture, such as food and music.
Ms Zhang also offers language workshops for school staff and provides a link to her hme school, Tianjin 102 High School, in the Tianjin municipality in north east China.
Vice consul Zhang Huazhong said: “On behalf of the Chinsea Consulate General in Edinburgh, I would like to congratulate Sandwick Junior High School on becoming a new member of the CISS.
“I sincerely hope that our young generations will learn more of each other’s cultures and languages, to further strengthen the friendship between our two countries.”
Speaking at the launch, SIC education and families committee chairwoman Vaila Wishart said: “Having a Confucious hub in Shetland will allow our young people to deepen their understanding of Chinese language and culture.
“I’d like to extend a warm welcome to our guests today from the Chinese consulate, from CISS and the Chongqing Sichuan Opera House. I hope that as many pupils as possible will benefit from Miss Zhang’s lessons and the Confucious hub at Sandwick Junior High School.”
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said giving isles pupils the opportunity to learn the most-spoken language in the world was a “hugely positive development”.
“This will give them an invaluable skill in the global market place over the coming years,” he said. “The social and cognitive benefits to young people who learn a second language have been well documented by researchers.
‘‘While I have problems with China’s human rights record, the country remains a one-party state which curbs fundamental human rights, especially in ethnic minority regions. However as China inevitably emerges as a global superpower, interaction and the exchange of ideas between young people in China and the West can only be a good thing and will hopefully go some way to planting seeds of change.’’
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