Campaign group questions the spread of Confucius Classrooms

Education ministers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have received a warning about China-sponsored Confucius Classrooms in UK schools.

A letter and petition have been sent by the Free Tibet campaign group concerning the Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms, which are supported – financially and with resources and Chinese teaching assistants – by the Chinese government agency Hanban.

Launched in 2004, the Confucius Institute programme places teaching facilities in universities and schools worldwide. The main aim is to teach Mandarin and about Chinese culture.

In the UK, there are 25 Confucius Institutes, usually based at universities, and 92 Confucius Classrooms, normally based within individual schools. Globally, there are 442 Institutes and 648 Classrooms.

However, in recent years educational institutions have questioned the Confucius programme. They are worried that pressure to toe the Chinese government line on topics such as Tibet and Taiwan makes them incompatible with academic freedom.

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