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Center on Chinese Education Created at TC

In this time of globalization and high-speed communication, learning about other cultures and ways of life has become necessary to successful communication and international relations. Teachers College now has a new link to Chinese education thanks to a new center.

The Center on Chinese Education (CoCE) at Teachers College, established in July, is devoted to policy research, training, and dissemination on education in China, as well as to educational exchanges between the United States and China.

Mun C. Tsang, Professor of Education and Chair of International and Transcultural Studies, said that the Center is part of "a broad vision which seeks to create improved educational exchange between China and the U.S."

The Center has received grants from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Crosson Company. The $525,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation is going to be used for establishing the Center and supporting its activities for the next three years. The Henry Luce Foundation has given grants to TC before, but this grant is for the first center of its type in the United States.

In order to support collaborative research between faculty members at TC and from Peking University of China, CoCE was awarded $110,000 from the China Office of the Ford Foundation. The grant, the first one by this office for educational research in China, is specifically for research on the financing of compulsory education in rural China. Tsang has worked with faculty members from the Peking University before and this grant helps to strengthen the collaboration between the two institutions.

"Historically, TC had a strong relationship with Chinese education," said Tsang. "The center is one vehicle for reviving and strengthening that relationship."

China is a major player on the world stage and is likely to play even a stronger role in world affairs in the century. Tsang said that China's experience in educational reform may be of interest to other countries, including the United States. China is also seeking to understand the experience of educational development in the United States and other countries.

"One goal of the center is to contribute towards the sharing of education ideas and experiences between educators in the United States and in China," commented Tsang.

The research and development projects sponsored by the Center will focus on primary, secondary, as well as higher education. Some of the current projects are: the financing of compulsory education in China, privatization and choice in education, web-based teaching of college English in China and school reform in Hong Kong. Wherever appropriate, these projects will examine the experience of China, the United States, and other countries. The Center will be linked to the activities of other institutes and centers at Teachers College such as the Institute on Education and the Economy and the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education.

Thomas Bailey, Craig Richards, George Bonanno, Clifford Hill, Chirsty Lao, Henry Levin, Pilar Solar, Frances Schoonmaker, and other interested faculty members will bring his or her expertise to the Center.

CoCE will try to contribute to training of education leaders from both countries to promote U.S.-China educational exchange through a variety of activities. Some of these activities will include workshops and seminars in on various subjects in education at TC and at collaborating institutions in China. Examples of these collaborating institutions are Peking University, Beijing Normal University, Shanghai Academy of Educational Research, and Chinese University of Hong Kong.

With outreach and exchange programs, CoCE will be able to share its findings and promote its ideas beyond the TC and Chinese campuses. The Center will provide a seminar on Chinese Education, a visit to TC by scholars from China as well as publications.

CoCE's Web site (http://www.tc.columbia.edu/centers/coce/) contains background information about the Center, updates on scholarships and teaching opportunities in China, as well as current projects and developments.

The site describes some of the programs available to students such as the Crosson Fellowship. "The fellowship is awarded by the Crosson Finance Company to Chinese students for graduate studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. The CoCE recruits relatively young applicants who work in the education department or bureau in a poor area in China. After completing their studies, the Chinese students are expected to return to work in China."

"Facilitating educational exchange between the United States and China," Tsang said, " is part of a larger effort towards a constructive and engaged relationship between two countries that is important for world peace and prosperity."

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