Chinese pre-schools to adopt NI Early Years programme
Thousands of pre-schools in China are to adopt an early learning programme developed in Northern Ireland.
Early Years, an organisation that works with young children, will train staff in thousands of institutions.
Chief executive Siobhan Fitzpatrick said educators from China were impressed by their programme while on a fact-finding mission earlier this year.
"They were intrigued by our child-centred approach, where children lead the curriculum," she said.
"They were also intrigued by the level of community and parental involvement, something that would be in contrast to the traditional approach in China."
China's education system is often seen as an example for other countries to follow, with Shanghai coming top in international tests in maths, reading and science.
Taken every three years by 15-year-olds, the Pisa examinations have become one of the most influential international benchmarks for education standards.
When it comes to teaching very young children, the culture is very different, according to Chang Si of Hebei Early Education Institute.
"Children come to kindergarten at 07:30 and stay there until 17:30," she said.
"Our institute co-operates with many kindergartens, and we want to be trained in the Early Years course so we can train other teachers and show the methods to parents."
Ms Fitzpatrick said some of its publications would be translated, and staff from Early Years would travel to China next week "to assess training needs and then we plan a delivery of training, both face-to-face and online".
Trading links with China are increasingly important, and she said she was delighted that a Chinese consulate was being set up in Belfast.
"We ploughed this furrow on our own, but a consulate in Belfast would ease the development of other relationships for us in China," she said.
"We are indebted to Invest NI for the support we have received over the last two years, but I think the arrival of a Chinese consulate in Belfast will further open up the Chinese market for ourselves."