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Integrating International Quality Educational Resources to Build Brand Schools with Deep Chinese Roots, an interview with Chiway Chairman Qian Jianrong
Education in China has changed a lot over the past 30 years. International education has also undergone processes of localization, creating a Chinese version of international education fit for this new era. Families experiencing globalization in China are eager for more personalized education and more educational resources that can bring up a new generation of elite talents.
Founded in 1996, Chiway was one of the first brands to develop international education in China, but it faced many challenges along the way to success. How did Chiway create market opportunities, create an effective curriculum, and meet the educational needs of this new era? The following is an interview with Chairman Qian Jianrong.
Q: You have much experience in the business of private education, and especially since the new Law on the Promotion of Private Education enacted in 2017, what are your views on the current policies concerning private education in China?
A: I believe that the new Law on the Promotion of Private Education is of great significance to the whole industry, and has solved many of the problems which have plagued us for many years. More private educators can now see a new hope for the industry, as more investors are willing to contribute more resources to optimizing the structure of private education. Since the early 1990s, private education has made tremendous contributions to the globalization and diversification of education in China, being the most dynamic and innovative component that promotes the healthy development of Chinese education.
Q: Why has Chiway recently made such a large effort to entirely reform itself?
A: Around 2008, the first group of talents cultivated in the "1000 Person Program" returned from Suzhou, and as they became parents that raise their own families, they have found it difficult to find schools that are up to par with their educational needs. They wish for a quality international education which also passes down the unique Chinese culture. As other educators provide a very "Americanized" curriculum, these parents hope for their children to be deeply rooted in China, appreciating Chinese culture while still enjoying from high standards, vision, and knowledge, as well as the learning ability and creativity that can be developed through international education.
Listening to the voice of the parents, we pondered on how to structure a new type of international school that can offer the greatest advantages of Chinese culture and foreign culture, and the idea for the "Overseas Chinese Academy of Chiway(OCAC)" was born.
Overseas Chinese Academy of Chiway Suzhou was then founded in 2016, following a series of meetings with the Suzhou Industrial Park administration committee, which provided significant support for the project. The school was established especially to cater to the children of talented professionals returning from overseas and to the children of Chinese families interested in international education, and has remained a model school of Chinese glocalized education for over fifteen years. Ever since its first year, the school has received much acclaim and high reviews. Later, in 2018, another OCAC was opened in the new technological park of Wuxi, and another school to be opened in Xiamen has started construction on its building foundations. It was during the April of this year that we bought enough stock in the EtonHouse international School Wuxi to extend our research and practice of international education to include the development of schooling especially for foreign children living in China.
We have been perfecting our curriculum, pedagogy, and our municipal realty research methods over these past few years, all in the name of making the best possible preparations for opening even more successful OCAC in other cities. I believe that investing more effort into our work now will result in a better future for us all.
Q: Chiway has opened multiple chains of brand-name schools, such as "OCAC", "Walton", and even some schools that are especially for the children of foreign specialists in China. What will be the K-12 flagship brand of Chiway schools? Where will Chiway open more schools in the future?
A: Now that our pedagogical, financial, and administrative operations are nearing perfection, I am glad to introduce you to our three main K-12 school brands. One is the chain of OCAC, another is the chain of Walton Foreign Language School, and the third is the chain of Schools for the Children of Foreign Specialists.
The OCAC brand emphasizes a curriculum deeply rooted in Chinese culture, operating as per an international school model, to teach traditional Chinese subjects and international scholastics, while also complying with the standards set by the overseers of education in China. Our school staff uses academic research to create a new and innovative blend of multicultural learning, and introduce a curriculum that adopts the advantages of each, while still strengthening its identity as a Chinese school with Chinese values.
Our schools for the children of foreign specialists, like the Eton House International School in Wuxi, constantly update and improve their pedagogy through collaborations with other famously successful schools in Europe and the Americas.
In the future, all major Chinese cities will have at least one Chiway school. We are currently laying the groundwork for such an expansion according to our business plans.
Q: Of the three major educational systems (pre-school education, basic K-12 schooling, and education for a profession), what proportion does each industry account for in China?
A: In recent years, we have realized the importance of integrating the whole educational business and so have developed the concept of "Chiway Complete Education". During the first 20 years, we have mostly focused on our commitment to perfecting the K-12 pedagogy, but in the future, the focus of our work will be to keep developing a new generation of private bilingual K-12 schools and also pre-schools. During these past two years, Chiway has also been doing research and discussing the formation of a plan to move into the work of vocational education. The company will surely continue to explore and implement new leaps of development.
Q: What do you think of the success that Chiway has achieved during the past 20 years?
A: During the 1990s, many private education institutions in China came to be collectively run by conglomerate companies, and this is the era in which Chiway was born. Continuing with this trend, Chiway has worked hard to grow its fleet of schools, which includes the OCAC in Suzhou and Wuxi, the Walton bilingual schools in Xuzhou and Taicang, the Hefei World Foreign Language School, the EtonHouse international schools in Suzhou and Wuxi, the international bilingual Walton kindergartens in Changzhou, Taicang, Hefei, and Xuzhou, as well as many other K-12 schools around mainland China.
The foreign language schools operated by Chiway are among the best in their locations, second-to-none in terms of pedagogy and educational achievements. These schools not only focus on the teaching of basic knowledge, but also cultivate each student's personal qualities, abilities, and interests. We believe that test scores are not the goal of a good education, but are the results of a good education, since the right educational process will bring the right educational results, so we persist to cultivate students into young talents with the abilities to meet the globalization challenges of the 21st century.
Over the years, Chiway has undergone several major transformations. The development trends of education in China provide the environment for Chiway's development, and both are closely linked. Reflections on the development of Chiway are reflections on the process of globalization that affect Chinese education, but through all the changes, one thing always remains the same, as "education creates the future". Our hope is that more and more students will become lifelong learners through the services and programs that we provide.
The leaders of Sino-French Eco-city Committee and Education Bureau of Caidian District of Wuhan City have visited and inspected Chiway Education Group