School is first to teach Chinese
A SECONDARY school for girls in Co Wicklow has taken the first small step towards preparing its students for a future in which China will become the world's largest economy.
The first formal Chinese teaching programme in an Irish school was launched yesterday at Loreto, Bray, where 40 students are learning the language and culture.
The school is one of a number where Mandarin Chinese was introduced on a pilot basis and it has been offered to first-year students as an extra-curricular subject for the past three years.
Now it has a formal agreement with the Chinese government-backed Confucius Institute at University College Dublin (UCD), which provides and pays for three native Chinese teachers for the weekly 90-minute classes for three different year groups.
But the Department of Education has no plans to introduce Chinese nationally, blaming lack of funding and an already busy 35-subject curriculum.
Last year China, whose economy is powering forward, displaced Japan as Ireland's biggest trading partner in Asia.