A new Confucius Institute, dedicated to promoting the learning of Chinese language (Mandarin) and culture among Jamaicans, is to be built at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, St. Andrew, within the next 12 months.
The facility, to be constructed at a cost of US$5 million, will be situated at the former Personnel Office on the Mona campus.
It will include eight classrooms, three administrative offices, a library, a lecture theatre, and a cultural exhibition area, which will be laid out over approximately 2,500 square feet of space.
The new facility will replace an existing centre located along Gibraltar Road, which was launched in 2009 and, at the time, was the first to be established in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Speaking at the official breaking-of-ground ceremony on May 17, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, said it is hoped that the programmes at the Confucius Institute will create a bridge of cooperation in the humanities between China and Jamaica.
Senator Reid said Confucius Institutes are important avenues for teaching Chinese language, promoting cultural and educational exchanges, and enhancing mutual understanding and friendship.
He said that as the country’s cultural and economic ties with China grows, it is to be expected that more Jamaicans will want to learn about China and to study various aspects of its culture, including Confucian philosophy.
“We have been most delighted that an agreement was reached to enable 25 of our Jamaican students in the Bachelor of Science (BSc.) Software Engineering programme here at the UWI Mona campus, to travel to China later this year under a partnership pact between the Global Institute of Software Technology in Suzhou, China, and the UWI and complete their programme,” he noted.
Senator Reid thanked the Government and people of China for the continuing expansion of cooperation over the years.
In his remarks, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Jamaica, His Excellency Tian Qi, said it is hoped that with the completion of the building, more Jamaicans will choose to learn the Chinese language and the true essence of Confucian philosophy.
He informed that more than 100 million people worldwide are learning the Chinese language.
“It is not a simple building, because it will turn out to be a further bridge of friendship, cultures and educational exchanges between the two countries,” he said.
There are more than 500 Confucius Institutes in approximately 140 countries. One of the objectives of the project at UWI is to engage in strategic collaboration with the other Institutes.