Fears China may be a bad influence on ‘Confucius classrooms’ students

Provost Pat Reid welcomes the Chinese delegation to Bo'ness Academy back in 2012
Provost Pat Reid welcomes the Chinese delegation to Bo'ness Academy back in 2012

A group of campaigners have blasted Falkirk Council for supposedly allowing Chinese “propaganda” to be taught in a Bo’ness school.

Free Tibet contacted the local authority to raise concerns over the so-called Confucius Classrooms, a Chinese language teaching project financially supported by the Chinese Government which is currently operating in Bo’ness Academy.

According to Free Tibet, the council has received at least $30,000 from China to support the initiative.

Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, Free Tibet director, said: “We strongly believe increased contact between the people of China and the people of Britain is a positive thing.

“Our concern is, in the case of the Confucius Classrooms, councils like Falkirk are facilitating that teaching and contact on terms effectively determined by a government that suppresses free speech inside its own borders.

“That government is also responsible for widespread human rights abuses, particularly in Tibet.

“By engaging in a financial and educational relationship with China’s government, the council risks allowing that government to have a negative influence over the education its pupils receive and places itself at risk of a conflict of interest – allowing the government of China undue influence over the policies of the council itself.”

Launched in 2004, the Confucius Institute programme claims to have 92 classrooms in UK primary and secondary schools which attempt to enhance the mutual understanding between China and Scotland.

Falkirk Council confirmed it was currently using external funding to operate Confucius Classrooms, including one at Bo’ness Academy.

A council spokesperson said: “We have formed a number of educational and cultural links with schools across the world.

“Bo’ness Academy set up links with a school in China in 2006 to provide an opportunity for pupils to experience a very different culture from their own.

“The school was then awarded Confucius Classroom status in 2012 and has since extended the teaching of Chinese language and culture to other secondary and primary schools in the area.

“We do receive funding on an annual basis from the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS) which assists with events, staff development and resources produced in Scotland.

“The main focus of the Confucius Hub is the teaching of language and to also provide pupils with different cultural experiences.

“This has been of real benefit to our young people.”