A major Chinese language educator in Canada looks to shift its branding as its branches continue to close across the country.
The Confucius Institute (CI) will change its name to the Ministry of Education Center for Language Exchange and Cooperation (教育部中外語言交流合作中心), reports Yahoo News.
The WeChat account for Confucius Institute Online had already been changed to chineseplus.net late last month.
There are currently ten Confucius Institutes in Canada, down from 15 that included two in B.C.
Since 2004, the Confucius Institute has rapidly expanded throughout the world. By 2018, there were 548 CI branches and some 2,000 classrooms spread across 154 countries.
The fast rise of CI on the international stage expansion has been controversial. Critic allege that Confucius Institute is a soft power tool for China that censors information and holds massive influence over the schools and universities it partners with.
And yet, although Toronto and Hamilton are among the cities that have ended their CI partnerships, Edmonton remains fully committed to the language and cultural exchange school.
Edmonton public schools voted to renew a five-year deal with Confucius Institute in January 2019. The prolonged deal kept Mandarin bilingual programs running in 14 Edmonton public schools.
During a public meeting, parent Dawn Knutson expressed her support for Confucius Institute to continue teaching her children.
“It’s easy for critics to undermine programs by overly politicizing them,” Knutson said. “At no point were my children exposed to Chinese politics or Chinese political thought by the CIE.”
As part of the agreement, CI-governing body Hanban pays for trips to China that facilitates cultural exchanges and visits to sister schools. In 2019, CI sponsored three school trips from Edmonton to China.