France, China to Strengthen Education Cooperation

The French and Chinese governments signed an agreement Monday in Paris to promote bilateral cooperation, with priority given in three fields -- exchange of students, teaching of French in China and Chinese in France, technical and professional training.

The agreement, signed by visiting Chinese Education Minister Chen Zhili and her French counterpart Jack Lang and French Minister of Professional Education Jean-Luc Melenchon, is the first agreement on education affairs since 1995 between the two countries.

On exchange of students, France and China agreed to maintain the current growth. A total of 3,450 Chinese university students now study in France, up from 1,127 in 1997/1998 school year.

The teaching of Chinese in France and French in China will also be promoted at all levels of education institutions.

The number of French students studying Chinese has doubled in five years and now totals about 6,000 and the number of French institutions that teach Chinese has doubled in 10 years, according to the French Ministry of National Education.

On the other hand, French has become a business language in China because of the important role that French enterprises play there.

The two countries also promised to establish common references in training and qualification, to strengthen cooperation in training teachers for technical and professional education institutions and to set up partnership between each other's professional training institutions.

Arriving on Sunday afternoon, Chen has visited France's most famous high school Louis Le Grand and France's elite institution of higher education Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. She will leave for Marseilles on Tuesday where she will visit medical laboratories that work in cooperation with China. On Wednesday, she will leave for a visit to Spain.

(People's Daily March 19, 2002)

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