MU terminates Confucius Institute partnership after federal guideline changes
COLUMBIA - University of Missouri officials announced Wednesday that the contract with the Confucius Institute will end in August 2020 because of changes in guidance from the U.S. Department of State.
Currently, 13 student interns through the Institute teach Chinese language classes in Columbia Public Schools. In a press release, Mary Stegmaier, the interim vice provost for international programs, said the university would now be required to have a certified Mandarin Chinese language teacher in every classroom with a Confucius Institute staff member.
“While Missouri-certified teachers were in the classroom with the CI staff, recruiting and supporting the necessary certified Chinese language teachers would be cost prohibitive," Stegmaier said.
According to the MU News Bureau director Christian Basi, the institute had a contract set to expire in February of 2021. The teaching program with CPS started in 2012.
Student interns teach a required three-week Mandarin course for every sixth-grade student at all six middle schools, teacher training programs, Chinese 1 and Chinese 2 programs, and before and after school programs.
The U.S. Department of State is allowing the university to continue operating the CPS partnership during the 2019-20 school year. The school district, however, plans to continue progressing in their studies of Mandarin Chinese for the future.
“The district will hire instructors to continue teaching alongside certified Columbia Public Schools teachers,” CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said in a press release.
MU has pledged to help CPS in the transition period. Basi said, as of now, one MU professor will help build the CPS curriculum.
“Children who have started Mandarin Chinese in middle school will be able to continue studying Chinese and children interested in learning Chinese will be able to begin their studies in high school,” Stiepleman said.