By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Aug. 22: The education board of Australia’s coastal state of New South Wales is set to scrap a Chinese language and cultural program ‘Confucius classroom program’ funded by Beijing amid concerns of foreign heavy-handedness in the state’s education system.
The NSW Department of Education which has been monitoring the program since May last year will officially announce on Friday that the program would end when the agreement with the Confucius Institute headquartered in Beijing expires in December, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell while commenting on the issue said, “Whilst the department’s review concluded there was no evidence of any undue influence in the Confucius classrooms, there were clearly inappropriate governance arrangements in place.”
Secretary of NSW Dept. of education Mark Scott said, “Following the review of foreign government/organisation support for language education in NSW government schools, the NSW Department of Education will be ending its Confucius program in 13 schools.”
A report found that the Australian state’s education department is the maiden government department in the world that “hosts a Confucius Institute, and in effect allowing Chinese government appointees inside a government department”. The program funded by the Chinese government agency Hanban known officially as the Confucius Institute employs teaching staffs that were vetted by the Chinese government for “good political quality” and a love of “the motherland”.
Tibetan legislator from the Australasia constituency and the President of the Australia Tibet Council, Kyizom Dhongdue who has been campaigning along side various rights and activists’ groups against the Chinese government program in the country wrote on her Facebook page, “We did it! After more than a year of campaigning, we shut down a Confucius Institute for the first time in Australia. Thank you to everyone who's joined us in this campaign.”
Confucius Institutes have been criticised as Chinese government’s unofficial propaganda arm that has infiltrated many education systems and organisations around the globe. The institute’s is being seen to be optimising China’s communist party’s agenda’s through it’s front as a Chinese language and cultural learning center.
In the United States alone, more than 100 Confucius Institutes are operating in major U.S. colleges. Over the years, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Chicago, among others have cut ties with the Chinese government funded institute citing undue China-centric influences.