11 Takeaways from the YCYW International Education Symposium

By Ned Kelly, March 7, 2024

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On March 1-2, in collaboration with the International Education Research Office of the Shanghai Changning District Institute of Education, YCYW held its first International Education Symposium at Yew Chung International School of Shanghai Puxi (Hongqiao Campus).

With Ms. Chen Ying, Vice District Mayor of Changning District, as the guest of honor, the two-day event brought together Chinese and international thought leaders in the field of education and attracted over 10,000 participants, both in-person and online, including Chinese and international staff members, parents, and alumni.

The theme of the symposium was 'Transforming Education, Empowering Humanity: China's Contributions to the Understanding of International Education,' with speakers exploring the present situation and practices of international education, examining how to cultivate future-oriented talent, and offering insights about current knowledge and the emerging trends within the industry.

Here are 11 major takeaways from the thought-provoking two-day event...

Blending Chinese & Western Principles

In her opening speech, Dr. Betty Chan Po-king, YCYW's CEO & School Supervisor, observed:

"For over 90 years, we have dedicated ourselves to providing quality education in China and internationally, blending Chinese and Western principles in our pedagogy to deliver our answer to Chinese international education.

"While celebrating the school's 30th anniversary, we also reaffirm our commitment to advancing international education in China and beyond."

READ MORE: YCYW Founder's Day Marks 30 Years of YCIS Shanghai!

Pioneers of Learning Through Play

Dr. Chan continued:

"In the 1970s, upon my return from academic training in the United States, we embraced the Western concept of 'learning through play' and integrated it into the traditional early childhood education settings in Hong Kong.

"Decades of evolution and refinement, as noted by Professor Kathy Sylva from the University of Oxford, have seen Yew Chung cultivate a distinctive, homegrown ECE approach.

"This approach marries the enduring principles of Chinese Confucianism with the Progressive educational theories of John Dewey.

"What sets it apart in the realm of ECE is its deep roots in Chinese heritage, enriched with over 2,000 years of traditional values, while also embracing global perspectives."

Dr Troy Lui Tsz-tak, Dr Betty Chan Po-king, and Mr Liu Jian

Baby to Bachelor

Guest of honor Ms. Chen Ying, Vice District Mayor of Changning District, remarked:

"In 1993, the founding of YCIS Shanghai made history as the first independent international school in Shanghai officially recognized by and registered with the Chinese Government.

"Today, Yew Chung and Yew Wah schools have flourished, extending their presence to 10 cities.

"YCYW provides a comprehensive education system, spanning from early childhood programs to primary, secondary, and tertiary education, thus covering the entire spectrum of education from 'baby to bachelor'."

Dr Esther Chan, Ms Chen Ying, and Dr Betty Chan Po-king

Fostering Peace & Sustainable Development

A keynote speech titled 'School Education: International Expectations and Trends' was delivered by Professor Zhang Min-xuan, Director of the UNESCO Teacher Education Centre; Director of the International Education Research Institute, Ministry of Education, China; and Director of the Centre for Comparative Education, The Chinese Society of Education.

In it, Professor Zhang posited that only through the active engagement of teachers in advancing and transforming education, responding to emerging trends and prospects, particularly in the context of digital education transformation, can they contribute to fostering peace and sustainable development for humanity.

He emphasized that, beyond all else, we are responsible for creating a joyful life for children, and the conditions for them to flourish.

Professor Zhang Min-xuan delivers his keynote speech

Release of Yew Chung ECE Book

Dr. Stephanie C. Sanders-Smith, distinguished Yew Chung-Bernard Spodek Scholar and Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, has meticulously researched Yew Chung approach and encapsulated them in the book, The Yew Chung Approach to Early Childhood Education.

This seminal work has been published in English by the leading academic publisher, Routledge.

The Chinese version of the book has now been published by Chung Hwa Book Company, enabling YCYW to extend the reach of their ECE philosophy to an even wider audience in China.

The book symbolizes one of YCYW's contributions to China's international education.

Dr Stephanie C. Sanders-Smith signs copies of her book, The Yew Chung Approach to Early Childhood Education

Interacting with the Unknown

The Keynote Speaker on day two of the Symposium was Dr. Troy Lui Tsz-tak, YCYW's Chief Education Officer and Head of the Curriculum and Professional Development Division.

He delved into how YCYW prepares students for the future, saying students must be encouraged "to extend their learning to the real world, to learn across disciplines, to learn how to interact with the world and the unknown," emphasizing that "deep learning requires acute focus on the development of character traits such as flexibility and adaptability."  

Looking to the Stars

YCYW will collaborate with the Shanghai Astronomy Museum in the development of its science curriculum, and an other-worldy perspective was offered by Mr Liu Jian, Deputy Director-General of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum and Director of the Shanghai Astronomy Museum Administrative Committee.

The scientist captivated the audience by shifting the perspective from the Earth to the cosmos, reminding us that astronomy develops students' interest in science, as well as offering ample opportunity for the integration of the arts and humanities, helping students to develop holistically through interdisciplinary and integrated education.


Mr Liu Jian, Deputy Director-General of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum and Director of the Shanghai Astronomy Museum Administrative Committee


The symposium also offered some 20 professional workshops, covering diverse topics including YCYW's innovative teaching approaches, the Bilingual Learning Communities, and Creative Arts Education, attracting enthusiastic participation from the audience.

Panel Discussions

There were a number of panel discussions, with parents of YCYW students and outstanding YCYW alumni from various sectors including talent recruitment and financial technology enriching the symposium with their professional insights and valuable experiences, as well as sharing the many ways that YCYW had made a profound and lasting impact on their lives.

An International Education Symposium panel discussion

Lifelong Learning

The two-day symposium coincided with the annual YCYW Professional Development Days. A diverse array of professional development activities and discussions were held across different YCYW campuses, reflecting YCYW's distinctive learning community and commitment to lifelong learning. This spirit not only imbues YCYW's educational philosophy but also serves as a powerful strong driving force, propelling its continued development.

Transcending Borders & Cultures

In her speech, Dr. Chan concluded:

"As we embark on this transformative journey, let us reflect on YCYW's enduring commitment to education that transcends borders and cultures.

"Together, let us contribute to the ongoing dialogue on international education, ensuring that we empower humanity through the power of knowledge."


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