(from left) Jim Hamilton, Dongbiao Zeng and Kevin Kaardal with Chinese education officials in the background. photo: contributed

New agreement links Chinese school district, School District 23 and Okanagan College

The agreement will facilitate student and instructor exchanges

A new partnership that spans the Pacific connects School District 23 and Okanagan College with one of the largest educational districts in one of the busiest cities in the most populous country on earth.

This week, School District 23 Superintendent Kevin Kaardal, Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton and Dongbiao Zeng, Director of the Education Bureau of Tianhe District, signed a Memorandum of Co-operation that will facilitate student and instructor exchanges and cultural development between the three partners.

The agreement follows on earlier agreements signed by the Province of British Columbia and Guangdong Province. The first sister provinces agreement was signed in 1995 and was followed by more detailed agreements in 2011 and 2016. The last inter-provincial agreement focused on two-way educational exchange and promotion.

“This commitment to co-operate opens the doors between ourselves and the Educational Bureau of Tianhe District,” said Hamilton. “With this in place we can work to facilitate Chinese students from this region finding a receptive school district and college in the Okanagan, and our students finding educational opportunities in one of the world’s global economic nodes.”

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“Our goal is to create cultural connections and paths that will strengthen our students’ sense of global citizenship,” said Kaardal.

“The signing among the Central Okanagan School District, Okanagan College, and Tianhe is going to not only boost the synergy on research and development of high quality international education programs, but it will also help teachers and students from both countries to blend in each other’s education culture, in order to set up a new strategic education cooperation pattern,” said Dongbiao Zeng, the director of the Education Bureau of Tianhe District. “In recent years, Tianhe has been aiming at constructing a modern education system that matches the national core city status of Guangzhou. As the education quality escalates, Tianhe has become an industry model in not only Guangzhou but also South China.”

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The Tianhe District is one of 11 districts in Guangzhou city. Tianhe District’s population is estimated at 1.5 million people living in an area of 96.33 square kilometres. In contrast, the Central Okanagan School District’s total population of approximately 180,000 resides in an area of approximately 2,861 square kilometres. The Okanagan College region serves approximately 400,000 people and covers 36,115 square kilometres.

The Guangzhou metropolitan area has an estimated population of approximately 25 million and is one of China’s three busiest cities.

At the post-secondary level, the Tianhe district boasts 53 national, provincial and municipal research and education institutions under its jurisdiction. At the K-12 level, it has 312 institutes and 200,000 students.

The agreement between the three institutions was facilitated by AQG Education Science and Technology Consulting Co., Ltd. Of Guangdong.

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