B.C. Liberal leader candidate and former B.C. Finance Minister, Mike de Jong, will expand Mandarin in the public education system if elected.
De Jong made the announcement Sunday at the Kiwanis Towers with Richmond North Centre MLA Teresa Wat, who is backing de Jong’s bid. The two showcased Chinese textbooks and handed out Chinese dictionaries to children.
“Our obligation is to ensure that our children will have the tools they need to succeed in the 21st century,” said de Jong.
“The re-emergence of China as an economic powerhouse is registering around the globe. As North America’s gateway, we need to further develop a strong economic relationship with China based on trade. Our ability to engage is pretty dependent on the ability to communicate,” he said.
De Jong added he hopes to launch a program in which some classes are taught in Mandarin, while others are in English.
De Jong expects Richmond to be one of the first cities to participate.
“It will be logical; I think there will be great enthusiasm in Richmond to learn Mandarin,” said de Jong.
“Richmond school board has always been open to providing new avenues to education for their students, so I fully expect Richmond to be near the front of the queue.”
This idea was applauded by many parents at the meeting, who believe it is a good way to prepare their children to do work that involves communication with China.
A Kiwanis resident, Ron Jones, however, voiced his opposition to the campaign.
“We should not forget that English and French are our two official languages, not Chinese. Having more language is helpful, but I don’t support putting public funding in it. There are more important areas that need public funding.”
Jones added that he felt upset when a staff spoke to him at a local event in Chinese, which he didn't understand, and left early.
Another BC Liberal leadership candidate, Todd Stone, also said at an event in China Town last Friday that, he is “strongly supportive" of incorporating more of Mandarin learning opportunities into our public education system.
The BC Liberals will vote on a new leader Feb. 1-3, 2018.