The news that 21 schools across Galway city and county have begun teaching Chinese language and culture classes has been welcomed.
Describing it as “futuristic” and “outward-looking” Galway Senator Fidelma Healy Eames has praised the mix of primary and second-level schools that have committed to teaching Chinese language and culture for twelve weeks this term and twelve weeks next term.
“This development began with our setting up of the China-Ireland project one and a half years ago. Since then we have developed a positive working relationship with the Confucius Institute in UCC,” said Senator Healy Eames.
“Two Chinese native teachers will spend three days each week working without Galway students. We started out with three schools, it developed into seven schools and now it has grown into 21 schools. Logistically we are capping it out at that level for now.”
There are five clusters of schools in Galway spanning Galway City and Barna, Oranmore, Athenry, Tuam, Clarinbridge and South Galway.
The excitement and interest is palpable amongst the teachers and students, said the Fine Gael Senator, adding that in one school the students come into school as early as 8.10am to learn Chinese before their normal classes start.
“The overall aim is to give our kids a future edge. As a nation we have to look outward. By building a critical mass of Chinese speakers in Galway we will create an attractive hub for Chinese-related business in time,” said the Oranmore Senator.