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Shenzhen to build more international schools

By Zhou Mo In Shenzhens | China Daily | Updated: 2016-06-23 08:08

Shenzhen plans to build five or six more international schools by 2020 in an effort to meet the demand of a growing foreign population.

The move is also in line with its efforts to build an international, modern and innovative city.

According to official statistics, more than 26,000 foreigners from 127 countries and regions were living in Shenzhen as permanent residents in 2015, growing 7.2 percent from a year earlier. Japanese were the biggest foreign group, followed by South Korea, the United States, India and Canada.

Fan Kun, deputy director of the Shenzhen Education Bureau, said educational internationalization is an important part of the city's education development.

"By learning from advanced international educational concepts and introducing high-quality international educational resources, Shenzhen will strive to enhance its educational internationalization level and increase its influence and competitiveness globally," Fan said.

There are seven international schools for foreigners currently operating in Shenzhen. At least 10 high schools in the city offer an international curriculum. As more Hong Kong people work and live in Shenzhen, the city has also opened two schools for Hong Kong students and nine schools with Hong Kong classes.

Ziver Olmez, senior business development manager of Harrow International Management Services, an international education organization that manages Harrow International Schools around the world, said that compared with the country's other first-tier cities, the number of international schools in Shenzhen is still small.

"There are big potentials to explore. In the coming years, more foreigners are expected to come and work in Shenzhen, and we are seeing more Hong Kong people going there as well. Therefore, I am quite positive about the prospects of the city's educational internationalization development," he said.

Harrow, which operates in Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, is planning to set up a new campus in Shenzhen in the near future, he added.

Dale Cox, head of Shekou International School in Shenzhen, which has been running in the city for 27 years, pointed out that hiring quality teachers has been a "great challenge".

"It's very difficult to do and it's very expensive to do. And it's getting harder and harder to do because there are more and more schools competing for those teachers," he said, adding that 60 percent or more of the budget of most international schools is spent on personnel.

Some parents, however, are not so thrilled about sending their children for an international education.

"There is no absolute way to say that international education is 100 percent better," said Wan Zhichun, mother of a 6-year-old boy.

"Children should first be cultivated to have a Chinese identity. That is more important than speaking fluent English or being admitted to a famed foreign university," Wan said.

"International education needs to be combined more with Chinese traditional culture, so that children can truly become Chinese talents with a global perspective," she said.


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