April held an auspicious occasion with the unveiling of the first Confucius Classroom at Charles La Trobe College. As part of the ongoing roll out of the Confucius Classrooms, Camberwell Grammar School's official launch occurred on the 15th June.
This marked another an prosperous development in both the school's Chinese language education program and the Confucius Institute's outreach program. The event was attended by dignitaries from the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Melbourne and La Trobe University. They were entertained with performances of Chinese dance, drama and martial arts by the School's students of Chinese.
Professor Nick Bisley, Executive Director of La Trobe Asia, noted a key benefit of the Confucius Classroom program in his launch speech. Adopting a model that brings together schools, universities and government from Australia and China in collaborative partnership, Confucius Classrooms assist in the development and improvement of people-to-people links between our two countries.
Trends in key national statistics point to the importance of China to Australia's economy. For example, in the economic sphere, China has been Australia's number one trading partner accounting for nearly one third of all two-way trade since 2007. Similarly, looking at our nation's demographics, Chinese is the second most common language spoken in Australia after English.
With China's growing importance upon the global economic and political stage, it is imperative that Australia as a nation improves its capacities to successfully engage with and further our regional partnership with China. The Confucius Classroom program, which is intended to promote the study of Chinese language and culture in schools around the world, is one mechanism available to contribute to this goal. Through its creation, Camberwell Grammar students will be provided further opportunity and broader support to develop Chinese language skills and to learn about the rich tapestry of China's culture and civilization.
Mr. Gang Chi from the Education Office at the Consulate General of the PRC in Melbourne encouraged students from Camberwell Grammar School to study Chinese language and culture. Noting that the future of China and Australia rests upon the shoulders of youth in both countries, he stated the Chinese Government's willingness to support opportunities for Australian students to study in China.
Established in 1886, Camberwell Grammar School is a prestigious private education provider for boys with a student population of 1320 (Prep to Year 12). Camberwell Grammar School started teaching Chinese in 1958 and was the first high school in Australia to introduce a Chinese language program. Currently, there are over 600 students studying Chinese.