British Columbia has taken another stride toward increasing the exchange of students, educators and ideas with countries in Asia, as Education Minister Peter Fassbender returned from his five-day education mission earlier this month.
The minister began his visit to The People’s Republic of China and Japan on May 30 to promote B.C.’s education programs, reinforce the Province’s commitment to international education and strengthen B.C.’s relationships with both countries.
During the mission, the minister met with municipal and national education representatives, as well as B.C. offshore school operators/owners in Beijing and Tokyo. Some of the key accomplishments from the minister’s trips include:
- The signing of education sector Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) in China with the National Ministry of Education, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education and the Heilongjiang Provincial Department of Education;
- The signing of a Memorandum of Co-operation with the National Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan;
- The announcement of a $150,000 British Columbia International Education Scholarship Program for Chinese, Japanese and South Korean international students studying in B.C.;
- The announcement of a $25,000 scholarship envelope for up to 50 British Columbia-China Awards for Excellence in Chinese for B.C. students studying Chinese in high schools. This is a jointly-funded scholarship by the Ministry of Education and the Education Office of the Education Office of the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Vancouver;
- Celebration of the 20th anniversary of Maple Leaf Education Systems, the first B.C. offshore school provider in China; and
- The official opening of the Bunka Suginami Canadian International School, the first B.C. offshore school in Japan.
In addition, the minister also met with students and school administrators at Sino Bright No. 8 in Beijing and Bunka Suginami Canadian International School in Tokyo on his tours of the schools.
There were many positive discussions between the minister, government representatives in China and Japan as well as educational partners during the mission. Ministry staff will continue to work with partners in Asia to develop plans for the signed education MOUs, and to finalize details of the new scholarship programs.
The education mission benefits B.C. students in significant ways. In addition to the new British Columbia-China Awards for Excellence in Chinese scholarship, B.C. students will have a more-diverse learning environment and be exposed to ideas, as well as experiences, from their classmates from abroad.
The mission supports the BC Jobs Plan’s International Education Strategy, which aims to increase the two-way flow of students and the social, cultural and economic opportunities that emerge from international education. China, Japan and South Korea are among the top priority countries identified in the strategy.
Since September 2011, the BC Jobs Plan has been building on the strengths of the province's most-competitive sectors, using B.C.'s educated and skilled workforce to keep the province's economy diverse, strong and growing.
Peter Fassbender, Minister of Education -
“We truly live in a global society and introducing all students to different languages, cultures and ideas is an invaluable part of their learning. International education is a priority for B.C. and our partners in Asia, and by working together, we can achieve our shared goal of providing these important opportunities to youth.”
“My recent visits to The People’s Republic of China and Japan were very positive experiences. We had many constructive discussions with our educational stakeholders in Asia, and it was great to meet the students as well as B.C. teachers at our offshore schools.”
“This trip to Asia marks a milestone for our international education programs. We will continue the discussions we have had with our educational stakeholders, and build on the strong collaborations between our province and countries in Asia.”
Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Advanced Education -
“Trade missions to countries like China and Japan strengthen and expand our international reputation and opportunities for the two-way exchange of students, faculty and ideas. International education benefits students at home and abroad through experiences and connections, which contribute to the diverse, strong and growing economy in B.C.”
- In 2014-15, there are nearly 17,000 international students in B.C.’s K-12 system - more than 13,100 in 50 school districts and more than 3,800 in 101 independent schools - contributing an estimated $400 million annually to the provincial economy.
- The number of international students in B.C.’s K-12 system has increased by nearly 45% to 16,957 in 2014-15 from 11,713 in 2009-10.
- There are currently 41 certified B.C. offshore schools in China, Japan, Columbia, Egypt, South Korea, Thailand and Qatar. Five new schools have been approved to open in France, India and China this fall.
- The number of students enrolled at B.C. offshore schools has increased by nearly 93% to 11,000 in 2014-15 from 5,705 in 2009-10.
- The B.C. Offshore Schools Program looks to foster international relationships with educational partners by promoting B.C.’s world-class education system. A key goal is to develop and strengthen cultural and economic ties with other countries while creating more pathways for students to come to B.C. to study in both the K-12 and postsecondary systems.
- Trade and investment in Asia is critical to economic growth in B.C. In 2014, 40% of B.C.’s goods exports went to Asia.
- China is B.C.’s second-largest trading partner and accounts for 18% of B.C.’s goods exports, a total value of more than $6.4 billion.
- As B.C.’s third-largest export market, Japan continues to be one of the most important export destinations for the province. In 2014, 10.2% of B.C.’s goods exports shipped to Japan.
BC Jobs Plan, International Education Strategy: www.aved.gov.bc.ca/internationaleducation/welcome.htm
Mission to Asia, Ministry of Education: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2015/05/education-mission-to-bolster-ties-with-china-and-japan.html
New scholarships for international students: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2015/06/new-scholarship-expands-opportunities-for-international-students-to-learn-in-bc.html
Mission to China, Ministry of Advanced Education (April 2015): http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2013-2017/2015AVED0029-000473.htm
For photos from Education Minister Peter Fassbender’s mission to Asia, visit: https://www.flickr.com/gp/bcgovphotos/pR2syN
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Education