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Fortes Education Celebrates The Launch of Sunmarke Mandarin Academy

by Belinda Breeze

Sunmarke School, a leading educational institution in Dubai, is delighted to announce the successful launch of the Sunmarke Mandarin Academy that took place on Thursday, February 8. The grand opening was part of the Fortes Signature Programme, demonstrating Fortes Education’s commitment to providing a diverse and holistic education.

With over 2035 students from 96 different nationalities, Sunmarke School takes pride in its multicultural community. The introduction of the Sunmarke Mandarin Academy underlines the school’s belief in the importance of Mandarin learning and the celebration of Chinese culture in nurturing global citizens and change makers of tomorrow. The Academy already has over 340 students learning Mandarin and plans to extend the programme to Year 6 next year and into Secondary School the following year. The school runs a native Mandarin programme after school, free of charge for parents, delivered by the Ni Hao Institute.

Dr. Neil Hopkin, Director of Education, Fortes Education, expressed his thoughts on the significance of Mandarin learning and Chinese cultural understanding. “In our mission to shape future-ready global citizens, we recognise the indispensable role that Mandarin learning and Chinese cultural immersion play. As educators, we are not simply teaching a language; we are opening doors to a civilisation with a history stretching back thousands of years. We are providing our students with the tools they need to engage meaningfully with a significant portion of the world’s population, to understand different perspectives, and to navigate a multicultural world with confidence and empathy.”

The grand opening was graced by esteemed guests including Mr Zhou Biao, Minister of the Chinese Embassy in UAE, Ms He Jia Jia, Minister’s wife, and Ms Zhang Qianyun, Third Secretary in the Chinese Embassy. Representatives from Fortes Education also attended, including owners Mrs Mankani, Mr Sanjay Mankani and Mr Ajay Mankani, Dr. Neil Hopkin, Director of Education, and Mr Nicholas Rickford, Principal of Sunmarke School. The event commenced with an exhilarating student performance of Drums and Dragon dance, where Mr Zhou honoured us by painting the eyes of the dragon. This was followed by speeches from Mr Zhou and Dr Hopkin, setting an encouraging tone for the future of the Sunmarke Mandarin Academy. Various performances highlighting Chinese culture were showcased throughout the day, including a Taiqi Fan dance by the ECA group, a show by the Chinese CPOP dance group, a Kungfu class presentation, a native class song and poem recital, a Chinese theme ballet by Year 1 and Year 2 students, and a final performance of Chinese Jazz.

Nicholas Rickford, Principal, Sunmarke School said “The successful inauguration of the Sunmarke Mandarin Academy is a powerful affirmation of our unwavering commitment towards fostering an inclusive and diverse educational environment. This milestone is not just about adding another language to our curriculum; it is about embracing diversity, promoting cultural understanding, and preparing our students for a globalised world. We are beyond excited about the multitude of opportunities this initiative brings for our students – opportunities for learning, for personal growth, and for forging connections that span across borders and cultures.”

In today’s increasingly globalised world, the importance of Mandarin cannot be overstated. As one of the six official languages of the United Nations and with over a billion native speakers worldwide, Mandarin stands as a vital pillar in the edifice of global communication. Learning Mandarin opens up a world of opportunities, providing learners with a competitive edge in fields such as business, diplomacy, academia, and more. The grand opening coincided with the school’s International Day, featuring food and culture stalls from 45 different countries. A special emphasis was placed on celebrating Chinese culture.