19 October 2023 at 10:00 am

Record audience for early childhood education symposium with China

Reconnecting with key government and education partners and lifting New Zealand education’s presence in China were key outcomes of the fourth Early Childhood Symposium at Nanjing Normal University in September 2023.

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This year, the symposium attracted a live audience of 350 attendees and a livestream audience of 100,000, well over the number of attendees in previous years. The symposium’s theme was ‘Advancing Inclusiveness in Early Childhood Education.   

The Early Childhood Education Symposium is an initiative between Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) and China Center for International People to People Exchange (CCIPE), a sub-agency of China Ministry of Education (China MoE).   

The symposium provides a platform for New Zealand Early Childhood Education (ECE) institutions, academics, practitioners, and policy experts to engage in a cross-cultural dialogue. It leverages New Zealand’s expertise in ECE teacher training programmes.  

This was the first year that a delegation of government representatives and ECE experts from New Zealand travelled to China to present at the symposium in person, which sent a positive signal to education partners in China about New Zealand’s strong focus on reconnecting and strengthening our education credentials in the China market.  

The symposium’s live presenters from New Zealand included Dr Jane Ewens, Manager Early Learning, Ministry of Education and Fiona He, Director and Founder, TuiTuiEducare/Universal Kids Early Education Centre. Dr Ewens presented an overview of the New Zealand Government’s policy focusing on advancing inclusiveness in early childhood education.  

ENZ’s General Manager International, Lisa Futschek, who provided opening remarks, said the symposium highlighted the special education relationship between New Zealand and China and our long and fruitful dialogue in a variety of education areas.   

It’s fantastic to see how the symposium has grown and evolved since 2020. We were delighted to be able to travel there, grow our connections in-person, and enable collaboration between people across the education landscape in both our countries.   

2023 has already been an exciting year for rebuilding face-to-face connections for New Zealand and China, and the symposium just helped us build on that so wonderfully,” Lisa said. 

ENZ General Manager International, Lisa Futschek.

CAO Diefeng, Deputy Director General, China Centre for International People-to-People Exchange indicated in his opening remarks that the China-New Zealand Early Childhood Education Symposium has received extensive attention because of its scale and influence. It is highly welcomed by the education sector from both China and New Zealand and is becoming a key platform for early childhood education communication.  

“The symposium exemplifies the sound education cooperation between our two countries and plays an important role in deepening substantive cooperation by both sides,” CAO Diefeng said. 

Dr Jane Ewens said the information exchange was valuable to all audiences and demonstrated there are opportunities for the Ministry of Education to learn from our Chinese partners. 

We can create stronger educational ties and foster ongoing cooperation with China, aligning with government priorities. This could include exploring attracting Chinese teachers and students to New Zealand's early childhood education teaching workforce. 

“There is also an opportunity for New Zealand practitioners and policy makers to consider and possibly integrate how China implements their curriculum as we develop curriculum resources for New Zealand Early Childhood Education kaiako (teachers),” Dr Ewens said. 

Dr Jane Ewens from the New Zealand Ministry of Education presents the Policy Overview.

This year’s symposium resulted in a range of valuable outcomes for New Zealand’s education relationship with China and for the sector. The symposium generated good visibility for New Zealand, with 45 media articles (accounting for almost four million views), which included reporting from top tier Chinese media. Many connections and leads for New Zealand participants were created during and after the symposium – one New Zealand speaker reported being approached by 50 Chinese counterparts after their virtual presentation. 

Aside from the symposium, the New Zealand delegation’s key objectives included supporting a bilateral education initiative linked to the New Zealand-China Arrangement on Education Cooperation and Training, while showcasing New Zealand’s expertise in early childhood education practices and curriculum to audiences in China.  

The visit provided a chance for the delegation to understand best practices in early childhood education from a Chinese cultural perspective that they could put into practice in New Zealand to better support learners from Chinese backgrounds. As part of the programme in Nanjing, the delegation visited two kindergartens and presented a panel session with academics and students at Nanjing Normal University. 

If you are interested in the ECE Symposium or partnering with ENZ on this event in the future, please contact the ENZ China team at China@enz.govt.nz. 

The audience in Nanjing take notes during the presentations.

Attendees of the Hefei Shuangyou Education Group in Anhui Province watch the symposium online.

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