University in Beijing establishes Waldorf teacher training college

By NNA, April 2014

A Waldorf teacher training college has been established at a Beijing university. The University of Modern Administration, one of the first free universities in post-revolutionary China, together with the Chenzhigu (Spring Valley) Centre for Waldorf Education in Beijing officially unveiled the establishment of the college at a ceremony in March.

Group picture after the ceremony: college head Yu Ningyuan in the first row on the right with entrepreneur Li Jian from Guangzhou next to him. Second from the right in the second row is Prof. Yang Dongping with Marcus Bleinroth and Martin Barkhoff third and fourth from the left in the front row. Photo: Martin Barkhoff

The opening speech was given by Prof. Yang Dongping from the Beijing Institute of Technology who is head of the “Education in the 21st Century” state organisation which is involved in working on the legislation for the Chinese education system. Yang is the main proponent of an independent education system in China and co-editor of the Chinese Yearbook of Educational Development. He is better known to the public at large for his appearance in the film Alphabet.

The new head of the college, Yu Ningyuan, said that the founder of Waldorf education, Rudolf Steiner, had first establish it in a school for the children of factory workers and emphasised the orientation towards the element of earth as the beginning of a coming civilisation of love.

In a congratulatory address, the German Embassy representative, Markus Bleinroth, attributed an important role to Waldorf education in China's development towards a knowledge-based society, pointing out that the children of two former German chancellors, Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schröder, attended Waldorf schools.

The significance of the establishment of the Waldorf teacher training college for the development of the Chinese economy was underscored by the businessman Li Jian from Guangzhou (Lithium Force, electric cars), who emphasised the similarities between successful Japanese management methods and Waldorf education. He quoted the example of the great importance accorded to sensory experiences.

Martin Barkhoff, who lectures at the Spring Valley Centre, presented Waldorf education in the context of other global movements that can be traced back to Rudolf Steiner and explained their strict individualism, quoting Ibrahim Abouleish, founder of the Sekem initiative in Egypt, and Tho Ha Vinh of the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan and the Presencing Institute, as examples.

The University of Modern Administration is located in an outlying district in the south-west of Beijing. It currently has 4000 students and plans to increase that number to 7000. Economics and administration are the main subjects of the current 24 colleges. The arts, applied sciences, education and nursing are also offered.

At present, Waldorf teacher training will continue to be offered only in the Spring Valley Centre near the Phoenix Mountains in north-west Beijing. The undergraduate course is intended to begin on the university campus in the autumn of 2016.

The Spring Valley Centre is one of the current twelve Waldorf-orientated training initiatives in China which collaborate in the China Waldorf Forum (CWF). In the academic sector, courses in Waldorf education were first held in 2000 at the Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, the city of China's first Waldorf school.

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