China Day 3

Monday 24th October 2016

Today we visited Yangzhou High School for the official opening ceremony of the Essex Jiangsu STEM Project, which involves 39 students and teachers from five Essex secondary schools including:  Becket Keys Church of England in Brentwood, Shenfield High School, Colchester County High School, Harris Academy Chafford Hundred, Helena Romanes School, Great Dunmow and two primary schools;  Fawbert and Barnard’s in Harlow and SS Peter and Paul’s, Redbridge along with 39 students and teachers from five Jiangsu high schools and two primary schools.  The project has been funded by the British Council to promote cultural, linguistic, educational, technological and economic links between China and England. 

During the ceremony, the Director General of Education for Jiangsu Province spoke about the 27 year history of its links with Essex County Council and how important projects like ours have been in deepening and promoting links between our two countries. He explained that Jiangsu has 141 higher educational establishments, 2,600 high schools and 4,000 primary schools which employed some 800,000 teachers.   He ended his speech by saving “how lovely are the flowers of friendship which always bloom between Jiangsu and Essex.” 

Michael Knowles from the British Council, who has lived in Jiangsu for the past year, explained that Jiangsu Province has the same population as countries like Germany and Iran and that if it was a country rather than a province it would be a G20 country.  He said it was a province rich in cultural history, with world class educational institutions and home to some of the world's cutting edge businesses.  He went on to stress how we live in an interconnected world and how having the opportunity to learn Chinese was one of the most powerful skills and influential passports a young person could ever hope to carry.  As we listened to these speeches, we could not help but feel so honoured that SSPP was part of such a prestigious project and is the only primary school in Redbridge to teach Mandarin.

After the speeches, we took a tour of the Yangzhou High School Museum to find out more about its 114 year old history. The school is the most prestigious school in the province of Jiangsu and pupils have to take an entrance exam to get a place.  Former Chairman of the People's Republic of China, Zhu Ziqin was a pupil at the school along with many other famous and influential Chinese writers, politicians and scientists.  We then took a tour of their new STEM building.  The sheer size of the school site and beauty of its surrounding environment was quite staggering.

Later on in the day, our group visited another cultural site, the beautiful Geyan Gardens and Guangehumen Street which forms part of the old city.