Over 2,500 years ago, Confucius, a great thinker, philosopher and educator, set up the first school in China's history in his hometown of Qufu, in east China's Shandong Province.
Today, the charm of Qufu as a cradle of Chinese civilization has drawn many domestic and overseas investors who seek to carry on Confucius' cause of education.
Cooperated with counterparts from Japan, South Korea, Australia and Canada as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan, the city has set up 14 schools in the city's 96-square-kilometer sphere, involving a total registered capital of 250 million yuan (US$30 million), said Mayor Wang Qingcheng.
The Confucian Bilingual School, a Sino-Canadian joint venture that teaches in both Chinese and English, has attracted 800 students from Shandong and some other provinces though it was founded only last year.
The school has recently reached an agreement with the education authority in Canada, which enables its graduates to seek higher education at a Canadian public university without taking a language proficiency test.
"It is of great significance to carry out east west exchanges and cooperation in the education sector in Confucius' hometown," said Feng Hong'en, president of the school.
Wang Naichang, a businessman from Taiwan who was among the first to invest in schools in Qufu, respects Confucius so much that he has included Confucius' school of thought into the syllabus for the 2,500 students at the Far East Institute of Business and Foreign Languages, where he is a major shareholder.
While most existing joint venture schools are seeking expansion, more investors are eyeing this market, lured by its high returns and a series of preferential policies by the local government.
The local education authority recently agreed to cooperate with an Australian chamber of commerce in setting up an international standard secondary school in Qufu.
Meanwhile, the Macao University of Science and Technology is also considering setting up a branch here.
"These joint-stock schools will bring new ideas and practices, which will broaden the horizons of the younger generation," said Mayor Wang.
(People’s Daily January 14, 2002)