Quinn says Chinese will be offered as Leaving Cert subject


CHINESE IS to be offered as a Leaving Certificate exam subject, according to Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn.

He announced his plans in Portlaoise, Co Laois, yesterday, at the official announcement of a transition-year course on Chinese language and culture.

Jointly developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the UCD Confucius Institute, the transition-year module combines language lessons with the study of traditional and modern Chinese culture.

The official launch was attended by students representing some 22 secondary schools already studying Chinese language and culture as part of their curriculums.

Participating students set up stands displaying different aspects of Chinese culture and representatives from five schools addressed the assembled guests in Chinese, Irish and English.

While unable to give a specific timeline for the inclusion of Chinese in the Leaving Cert, Mr Quinn said he hoped the transition-year course would “whet the appetite for students to study Chinese for the Leaving Cert”. He said the 45-hour transition course on Chinese history, language and culture should also change some of “our western prejudices”.

He also announced an optional short course on Chinese language and culture which will be made available as part of the new Junior Cert cycle programme from 2014.

“The last 500 years have been dominated by a Eurocentric view of the world from the time of Christopher Columbus discovering, to use that arrogant word, a place that existed long before the Europeans arrived there,” he said.

“The Europeans got to more or less write the agenda of the global political system but that is coming to an end. The young people in transition year have to realise that the dominance of the western world, which we have taken for granted, now has to be replaced with a respect and an understanding of other major centres of political force.”

Zengan Peng of the Hanban Institute of China – the headquarters of Confucius Institutes worldwide – described the launch of the transition year course as a “remarkable milestone”.

UCD institute director Dr Wang Liming expressed his delight at the displays provided by the Irish schools. He was “proud that the teaching pack for transition unit developed by our institute has been officially launched by the Minister”.

The chief executive of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Dr Anne Looney, noted the enthusiasm of participating schools.