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Teachers trained at international schools in Beijing

By Luo Wang | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-12 07:10

Program helps educators better understand Chinese elements, reduces transportation and living expenses

Teachers and administrators at Beijing primary and secondary schools are getting cosmopolitan training on their own doorstep.

Instead of paying for flights and stipends for their employees, schools are instead sending them to courses at international schools to learn about curricula and management.

The Domestic Study Program has been organized by the capital's education commission and is being run by the Beijing Institute of Education.

The yearlong program trains 20 teachers and 20 administrators annually.

Since the first class in 2011, the program has trained 80 participants, with the most recent group graduating on Thursday.

Nine of Beijing's international schools have joined the program, including the International School, Western Academy and British School.

Participants study full time for a month at an international school, observing classes, joining in with activities and hearing lectures from peers.

"It is an economical way to impart international education theories to Beijing schools," said Ren Jun, the Beijing education commission's assistant director of international relations. "We have a limited budget for teacher training abroad. This program saves transportation and living expenses, which maximizes the benefits."

Ma Ke, the commission's deputy director of basic education, said that the capital's aim is to cultivate global citizens.

"We've done a survey and found that most principals are not satisfied with the international development in their schools," he said. "This program provides an immersion experience, allowing teachers and administrators to absorb advanced theories and bring them back to our schools."

Zhang Xiaomeng, an English teacher at Beijing No 9 High School, conducted her study at Western Academy of Beijing between October and November.

"I was impressed when I first arrived," the 33-year-old said. "The campus has many Chinese elements, such as Confucius statues."

As a school administrator, Wang Shihui, director of student affairs at Beijing No 2 Middle School Yizhuang School, was impressed by the students' ability to process information at the International School of Beijing.

International school students "know how to search for an answer online, taking advantage of the online resources and technology," she said. "My school is trying to establish online resources, like an online library. I would love to have my students know how to dig for information online and properly use technology, instead of spending all their energy playing computer games."

Ada Jen, the government affairs manager at the International School of Beijing, said she believes the program makes the school more involved with the community.

"We appreciate the communication with schools and the neighborhood," she said. "It fits our curricula and strategy. Our teachers and students appreciate that, too."

At the school, program participants hear introductions from each department head, sit in on lessons in classrooms, join extra-curricular activities and give weekly feedback.

"I tried to offer a systematic model to teachers and am willing to hear their needs," Jen said.

Li Rui, administrative manager for the British School, said the program was good for communication. "Our goal is not only to be in Beijing, but become part of Beijing," she said.

However, Chen Li, dean of the principal research school at the Beijing Institute of Education, another organizer of the program, said English proficiency is an obstacle.

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