PARENTS have raised serious concerns about a program, devised and funded by the Chinese regime, being offered at some north shore public schools.
“It’s basically a Chinese regime-run institution on an Australian campus, which concerns me for a few different reasons.
“Confucius classrooms are not run by Australian schools, they are run by the Chinese education system,” he said.
Alexander Nilsen moved to Mosman from Norway with his family about four years ago and was shocked to find the Confucius Classrooms program running at Mosman High.
“When I started looking into it more and the controversy around it, I thought I don’t really know if I want my son to be exposed to it,” he said.
“I’ve done a lot of contract work for the Chinese over the past 10 years and I’ve learnt a bit about what happens sometimes with the Confucius Institute and the classrooms program.”
Mr Nilsen said after moving away from the area for a year, his family returned to Chatswood early this year and found the program was running in both Chatswood Public and High schools.
He and his wife Gina were considering sending their son Fabian, now 8, to Chatswood Public, but chose not to specifically because of the program.
“It’s tricky; they’re not going to come in the class and do full-on communist indoctrination, but I know no controversial topics will be discussed in the classes, like Taiwan or the Tiananmen Square massacre.
“For me, knowing how the Chinese regime operates, I’d be more comfortable if the program was completely shut down in Australia.”
Mr Nilsen said the traditional Chinese culture was a rich and amazing one and he often reads to his son about them, but thought there were better ways to teach Australian children about Chinese language and culture.
Mr Nilsen, along with other north shore parents, has established a Facebook page and a change.org petition to raise more awareness about the issue.
$10,000 for Chinese program
The opening of a new Confucius Classroom in Victoria last year.
NSW public schools can apply for up to $10,000 by participating in the Confucius Classrooms program.
Participating schools can apply to the Confucius Institute for the funds for related resources.
An Education Department spokesman said 13 NSW public schools were currently involved.
“The Confucius Institute is a respected and long-running program well established in Australian universities,” he said.
“The institute aims to improve students’ understanding of Chinese language and culture and facilitates partner school relationships with China.
“In 2012, the Department of Education signed a memorandum of understanding with the institute headquarters in China enabling NSW public schools to establish Confucius Classrooms.”
The spokesman said the lessons were delivered by department teachers.
“In addition, each Confucius Classroom has a teaching assistant appointed by the Confucius Institute to complement authentic language and culture experience delivered by the classroom teacher,” he said.
“Chatswood Public School includes information (on the program) in their parent information booklet and Chatswood High School has a dedicated page on their website.”