MONTREAL, JANUARY 23, 2012 – An English Montreal School Board (EMSB) delegation recently returned from a successful mission to China.
Representing the EMSB were Assistant Director of Adult Education and Vocational Service (AEVS) Cosmo Della Rocca, Deputy Director General Roma Medwid, Director of Pedagogical Services Sandra Furfaro, AEVS Chairman and Commissioner Ellie Israel, Education Facilities Committee Chairman and Commissioner Bernie Praw and Commissioner Frank Verrillo, also the vice-president of the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) .
During the 18-day mission to China there were visits to middle schools, colleges, and vocational training centers from its capital to the south. This visit was organized and overseen by Mr. Della Rocca. The journey began in Beijing, the capital of China, where they met with high-level Department of Education officials from the Beijing Municipal Education Commission and visited various vocational centers. This included the Fengtai Vocational Centers, which has a culinary institute. There were also meetings with the directors from the Department of Culture and International Education of the Peoples’ Republic of China to discuss training for vocational teachers and accepting students into EMSB vocational programs.
“On a daily basis, we would visit schools in the morning and afternoon and upon our return to the hotel, we would be met by parents or school administrators and municipal politicians from other cities,” commented Ms. Israel. “In many cases, the parents travelled as much as 15 hours by train to meet with us for 15 minutes in the hotel lobby. The parents that we met have students in our vocational training centers and specifically came to thank us and tell us that they were very satisfied with our school board, both in the way that their children were being taught and the warm friendship they found with us.”
The school administrators signed agreements that will promote the recruitment of students to EMSB vocational centers. After a succession of meetings in Beijing, the delegation continued on towards the southern part of China and Wuhan, Huang Gang, Nanchang, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Kunming, Qujing, and Haikou. In all of these cities, they met with education officials, both from the political and administrative levels, and visited vocational training centers and middle schools. “We agreed on a general framework that will inevitably bring many youth sector and vocational training students to the EMSB,” said Mr. Della Rocca.
The last city the delegation visited was Haikou, which is situated on an island in the most southern part of China. This zone has been designated by the National Chinese Government as an area to be developed for tourism. There are excellent opportunities for the EMSB in this region in both the area of vocational training and the youth sector. In the Adult Education and Vocational sector, the EMSB has strong expertise in the travel and tourism, professional cooking and English Language programs for adults. Hainan Senior Technical School has expressed a strong interest in sending their professional cooking students to study at the EMSB and in working on teacher exchanges, student exchanges, international work-study and professional development for their vocational training teachers.
“Hainan has expressed a strong interest in developing a partnership with us that would encompass offering courses to their middle school graduates in Secondary V, enabling them to obtain a Quebec High School Leaving Diploma,” Mr. Della Rocca disclosed.
This year’s delegation continued where last year’s left off. The mission of 2010 was a one of exploration, branding the EMSB name and making contacts. “The enthusiasm continued with this year’s delegation,” noted Ms. Medwid. “We were greeted with the warmest of welcomes in all he cities that we visited. Our hosts proudly displayed our Canadian flag next to their Chinese flag and talked about the love and friendship they felt towards Canadians.”
It is important to note that the Canadian Council of the Federation from Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Education and of Immigration, in an action plan document that was published last June, strongly urged Canadian school boards to become active in the recruitment of international students citing financial and cultural benefits. “Locally at the EMSB, given declining enrolment and continuous government budgetary compressions, we are forced to think differently about generating additional revenue streams. Attracting international students to the EMSB will bring this needed revenue and benefit to our student population at large. We are confident that international students will continue come to the EMSB because of our excellent reputation, which must continue to be nurtured.”
Since the delegation’s return from China, Mr. Della Rocca notes that 14 new students have already enrolled in the vocational training sector while four have joined the youth sector. The forecast is for many more to come.
Mr. Della Rocca wishes to thank, in particular, Cuiwen Yao. She served as the EMSB representative in China. Via her large network of contacts in China she skillfully handled all of the details of the meetings and travel with the utmost professionalism, making this delegation’s visit very safe, productive and a resounding success.