Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, welcoming China’s Ambassador to Barbados, Wei Qiang, to his Ministry. (Image: Basil Bishop/MRD)??????

Student and teacher exchange programmes between China and Barbados, were among the main issues discussed today when Chinese Ambassador Wei Qiang paid a courtesy call on Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones at his office at the Elsie Payne Complex.

Recognising the contribution made by China in providing scholarships to Barbadians, Minister Jones said: "We have not had many students coming the other way. We have not been able in the past to attract many non-Caribbean students to the UWI [University of the West Indies] to give them a taste of the Caribbean educational experience, so that is an area to explore."??

Noting that formal arrangements would have to be completed, Mr. Jones stated exchange initiatives would enable students to continue to learn Mandarin. He further called for a teacher exchange programme, involving the transfer of??English??and Chinese students and noted that the Language Centre of the Barbados Community College would have a "deep interest in it" and could work to make this come to fruition.????

While disclosing that the Agricultural Training Unit would soon be coming on stream in the north of the island, the Education Minister asked Ambassador Wei for technical aid in the form of green house technology, aqua culture and renewable energy, among others.??

Mr. Jones explained that the institution, which was an effort by the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, would also reach out to countries in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States with its training and production yield.?? "We would want to see the presence of some of your technical personnel and to learn from them. China is known to have yields unheard of and unmatched in the world," he maintained.????????

The Education Minister also praised China’s strong commitment to developing the island.?? Mr. Jones told Ambassador Wei that the Education Sector Enhancement Project had benefited from China’s involvement in the refurbishment of schools and Barbadians had been the beneficiaries of the Wildey Gymnasium.??

In accepting the Minister’s commendations, Ambassador Wei, acknowledged that China’s Ministry of Education was currently working to include the UWI on its students list of choices for international universities. He said there were funding initiatives which students could use and access for the carrying out of suitable projects in education.

The Ambassador further stated that the educational exchange programme would augur well for the future resulting in "a more beneficial and mutual exchange" for the two countries.

He added: "It will be a very important step forward. Like Barbadians, Chinese people attach very great importance to the education of our youth in order to give them more opportunities for upward mobility. This is common ground on which we can develop cooperation and mutual exchange of experience. We would be more than happy to promote this."

With respect to promoting the teaching of Mandarin, Ambassador Wei pointed out that the proposal to send a teacher here had already been put forward and they "looked forward to the next step".

In conclusion, he acknowledged the "very warm and effective collaboration and assistance" received from the Barbados Government and indicated that his office would be honoured to facilitate an educational exchange in the form of a ministerial visit to China for Mr. Jones and his team.

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